Friday Five: The week's top news

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

Friday Five: The week's top news

Related tags: Coronavirus

As the Coronavirus crisis continues to dominate the headlines, we round-up some of the main stories regarding how it has affected the hospitality industry in the past week.

- Restaurants, pubs and hotels will be able to open from 4 July in England​ with social distancing rules also being eased, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has confirmed. While Johnson said that people should remain two metres apart where possible, businesses where this is not possible, such as those in the hospitality sector, could observe a ‘one metre plus’ rule. All indoor hospitality operations will be limited to table service only with businesses encouraged to have ‘minimal staff and customer interaction'. Announcing the new measure in the House of Commons earlier this week, Johnson said that “at every stage caution should remain” and the both decisions were “conditional and reversable”.

- Following Johnson's announcement, the Government has published a 43-page advisory document for operators preparing to reopen on 4 July​. Split across eight defined sections, the guidance gives businesses direction on how to keeping staff and customers safe while the Coronavirus remains in general circulation. This includes advice on social distancing for workers; cleaning the workplace; keeping customers and visitors safe; and the use of PPE and face coverings. To help assist with the NHS Test and Trace scheme and 'help fight the virus', operators are being asked to keep a temporary record of all customers for 21 days. It adds that, for those businesses not already using a booking system to record their customer's details, the Government will work with industry and relevant bodies to design a system in line with data protection legislation, and will set out details regarding this shortly.

- The Government has also brought forward a bill aimed at allowing pubs, cafes and restaurants more freedom to operate outside​. The Business and Planning Bill will grant fast-track approval to allow reopened hospitality businesses to convert car parks and terraces into temporary beer gardens, and some sites will be able to set up tables and chairs on pavements to serve customers. Under the legislation, the current 28-day consultation period will be reduced to five days, and every venue with an alcohol license will be given permission to sell beer and wine for people to drink on the street. It is hoped that the new law could be pushed through within days so as to coincide with the proposed reopening of the hospitality sector on 4 July, and is seen seen as a significant step towards getting the industry back on its feet following the Coronavirus lockdown.

- Pret is to make an announcement about potential job cuts next month​ after a video showed revealed the impact of the Coronavirus on the sandwich chain. In a leaked video seen by the BBC​, chief executive Pano Christou told staff that weekly takings had fallen to £3m, just 15% of normal levels, and that an announcement about the “job situation” would be made on 8 July. “What will be the case is, on 8 July, we’ll be doing a broader communication to the teams, just talking through the initial work that’s been done on this, so things will start to become clearer from 8 July,” he said. “I think globally we’ll need our sales to get to about 60% [of pre-crisis levels] to break even.”

- PizzaExpress is to launch its first 'virtual', delivery-only brand early next month​. Created in partnership with Deliveroo and called Mac & Wings, the group says the concept has been designed 'to cater for the ever-increasing demand for online delivery'. The menu's development follows 'extensive' customer research, and features six variations of chicken wings such as lemon and herb, hot jalapeño, and cracked pepper with cheese; and seven variations of macaroni cheese including one with cajun chicken, another with ‘nduja, and one with pancetta. A selection of sides including cheesy garlic bread, potato wedges and calamari will also be available, alongside a selection of desserts and soft or alcoholic drinks. Prices will start from £6.25.

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