Friday Five: the week's top news stories

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

Friday Five: the week's top news stories

Related tags: Coronavirus, Restaurant

We round-up some of the main hospitality news stories from the past week including the extension of regulations allowing restaurants and pubs to operate as takeaways and Purezza's global expansion.

- Relaxed regulations that have allowed restaurants and pubs to operate as hot food takeaways during the Coronavirus pandemic have been extended until 2022​, Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick has said. The blanket provision, which came into force at the onset of the Coronavirus crisis back in March, means businesses will not need to go through a planning application process to provide takeaway. While the relaxed regulations on takeaways have only been extended until March 23 2022, the Communities Secretary said his department will look into whether this one-size-fits-all approach should become the norm. “We’ve taken decisive action since the beginning of the pandemic to support our pubs, restaurants, cafes and markets," said Jenrick. “Making it easier for them to provide takeaways has helped these businesses to adapt and helped sustain many through an unbelievably difficult year.”

- Leaders from the hospitality sector are calling on the Government to adapt the current Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) and Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS) temporarily​, which they say will incentivise investors to help rebuild the hospitality sector. Alan Lorrimer, founder of live music venues The Piano Works, hospitality sector advisor Payam Keyghobadi, and leisure lawyer Dave Roberts, with the support of the major hospitality organisations, have written an open letter to Chancellor Rishi Sunak asking him to amend the schemes, which offer tax efficient benefits to investors in return for investment into business. Their proposal, which has been co-signed by Kate Nicholls CEO of UK Hospitality and Michael Kill of the Night Time Industries Association, asks that the Government considers an initiative that will encourage investors to support bars, restaurants, pubs, clubs and music venues by adapting the schemes to offer enhanced incentives that will enable hospitality businesses to approach investors for long term risk capital. This, they say, would mean hospitality businesses will have the necessary liquidity to survive and re-open, and investors can reap the rewards once the sector is back on its feet.

- Vegan pizza brand Purezza is to push ahead with plans to expand the business globally​ after raising £2.4m in investment. MVK Group and Veg Capital were among multiple investors in the funding drive, which also included investors based in the Middle East, USA, Europe and Asia. Vegan investment firm Veg Capital has invested directly into the retail expansion for Purezza’s plant-based mozzarella, which will see a brand new 8,000sq ft retail space opening in Brighton & Hove. We are delighted to be working with the team at Veg Capital to bring Purezza to the retail space," said Tim Barclay, co-founder and co-owner of Purezza. "Our plant-based mozzarella is designed to rival premium Italian bualo mozzarella, giving the same quality and avour that people expect from a classic food, but with modern and sustainable methods of production." The group is yet to detail its plans for global expansion and where the next restaurants will open, but says the funding will ensure Purezza can continue expanding rapidly throughout 2021.

- Hospitality businesses are being warned they could face a recruitment shortage post Brexit if they do not register to employ overseas workers before free movement ends​ on 1 January. Figures from the Home Office show that just 2% of British companies have so far registered for a licence to sponsor applicants on a Tier 2 or ‘General’ work visa, which is the main UK visa route for skilled workers. Yash Dubal, director of London-based A Y & J Solicitors and an expert on immigration and visa law, warns that businesses without a valid Tier 2 sponsor licence when free movement ends on 1 January 2021 will be restricted from access to EU and other foreign skilled personnel after that date. It comes as Home Secretary Priti Patel announced that the Government’s new points-based immigration bill had passed through Parliament. The so-called ‘Australian-style’ immigration system is designed to favour workers who are judged to be ‘high skilled’, and end ‘low-skilled’ migration from the EU once the UK leaves the bloc at the end of the year. Those wishing to come and work in the UK from the EU under the new system would have to secure a job with a minimum salary threshold of £25,600. Employees earning less than £25,600, but more than £20,480, would still be able to apply for a visa if it was to work in a 'specific shortage occupation' role; while anyone earning less than £20,480 would not be able to take a job in the country.

- Sir Keir Starmer has called for a rethink of the Government's 10pm curfew on hospitality​, suggesting it would be better to stagger closing times once businesses reopen post lockdown. In an LBC phone-in this week, the Labour leader said his party could withdraw support for the policy, which would leave Prime Minister Boris Johnson at the mercy of a Tory rebellion from backbench MPs who oppose the controversial measure. Starmer said he supported what the Government had been trying to achieve with the curfew, but that it didn't work. He suggested that closing times should be spread out so people did not pour out on to the streets all at once, and indicated that off-licences should be shut at the same time to discourage after-hours partying.

Check below for more of this week's headlines, or click here​.

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