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COVID-19 - Support for Visitor Economy Businesses

The Prime Minister has announced that the country will move into Step 4, the final stage of the England Roadmap out of Lockdown, on 19 July. At this step, the Government will remove outstanding legal restrictions on social contact, life events, and open the remaining closed settings.

Guidance will be provided to the public and to businesses on how they can help reduce the spread of COVID-19 based on 5 principles for managing COVID-19 as England learns to live with the virus:

  • Reinforce the country’s vaccine wall of defence through booster jabs and driving take up.
  • Enable the public to make informed decisions through guidance, rather than laws.
  • Retain proportionate test, trace and isolate plans in line with international comparators.
  • Manage risks at the border and support a global response to reduce the risk of variants emerging globally and entering the UK.
  • Retain contingency measures to respond to unexpected events, while accepting that further cases, hospitalisations and deaths will occur as the country learns to live with COVID-19.

More details can be found in the COVID-19 Response: Summer 2021.

Top-line guidance has been published, the main points of which for the Visitor Economy are:

  • All remaining limits on social contact will be removed and there will be no restrictions on how many people can meet in any setting, indoors and outdoors.
  • All settings will be able to open, including nightclubs. Large events, such as music concerts and sporting events can resume without any limits on attendance or social distancing requirements.
  • All restrictions on life events such as weddings, funerals, bar/bat mitzvahs and baptisms will be removed, including the remaining restrictions on the number of attendees. There will be no requirement for table service or restrictions on singing or dancing.
  • COVID-status certification will not be required in law as a condition of entry for visitors to any setting. Organisations are already able to ask visitors for proof of COVID-status, as long as they meet existing legal obligations.
  • The legal requirement to wear face coverings will be lifted in all settings, and social distancing rules will also be lifted but will be required in limited circumstances.
  • Regulations that place COVID-secure requirements on businesses, including table service, and distancing between tables, will be lifted. ‘Working Safely’ guidance will be updated to provide examples of sensible precautions that employers can take to reduce their risk in their workplaces. Employers should take account of this guidance in preparing the risk assessments they are already required to make under pre-pandemic health and safety rules.
  • Businesses will be encouraged to ask staff and customers to clean heir hands regularly and clean surfaces that people touch regularly. The Government will provide guidance on how businesses can reduce unnecessary contact in the workplace, where it is practical.
  • Businesses will be required to display QR codes for customers to check in using the NHS COVID-19 app, to support NHS Test and Trace, although it will no longer be a legal requirement.

The Prime Minister has confirmed that vaccine passports will be compulsory for nightclubs and other mass events from the end of September – without an option to show a negative test instead – once all over-18s have had the chance to receive both doses and develop immunity.

Tourism Recovery Plan
Tourism Minister, Nigel Huddleston MP announced the Government’s Tourism Recovery Plan which is set to drive rapid recovery of the tourism sector.

The Plan recognises the importance and economic potential of the sector, and aims to recover domestic overnight trip volume and spend to 2019 levels by the end of 2022, and inbound visitor numbers and spend by the end of 2023 (both over a year faster than independent forecasts predict).

Build Back Better High Streets

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government has published their Build Back Better plan for High Streets. Main points of this include:

  • Additional support measures to encourage the alternative “meanwhile” use of vacant units, to ensure they don’t sit empty and help high streets recover
  • Support for the removal of derelict buildings to make way for new developments
  • 12-month extension to the new temporary permissions for off-sales of alcohol
  • Looking at how BIDs can be used to further improve the local trading environment

Linked to this, the Government has announced 15 Town Deals totalling £335 million, including Birkenhead, Runcorn and St Helens. Southport is also one of 45 Towns Fund areas who had their funding confirmed at part of the Budget in March 2021.

Hospitality Strategy

Business Minister Paul Scully has launched a Hospitality Strategy for England’s pubs, restaurants, cafes and nightclubs. This strategy sits alongside the Government’s High Streets Strategy and its Tourism Recovery Plan.

To oversee delivery of the 22 commitments outlined in the strategy, the UK Government will establish a Hospitality Sector Council, comprising businesses, sector representatives and industry leaders. This Council will meet to agree an action plan to deliver the commitments, review progress against this plan and monitor the overall recovery of the sector as businesses transition from reopening through recovery to resilience.

Additional Restrictions Grants

The Additional Restrictions Grant support businesses that are not covered by other grant schemes or where additional funding is needed. Local councils can determine which businesses to support and determine the amount of funding provided from the ARG scheme, but have been encouraged to support:

  • Businesses from all sectors that have been severely impacted by restrictions but are not eligible for the Restart Grant scheme, including those who do not pay business rates.
  • Businesses from sectors that remain closed or severely impacted by restrictions, even if they have already been in receipt of the Restart Grants (e.g. the travel and tourism sector, wedding industries, nightclubs).

Find out more here.

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

Extended until September 2021, meaning workers in the UK can retain their job, even if their employer cannot afford to pay them, and will be paid at least 80% of their salary up to £2,500 per month.

From 1st July, the government will introduce an employer contribution towards the cost on unworked hours, which will be 10% in July and 20% in August and September. More information can be found here.

Self-Employment Income Support Scheme Grant Extension

The fifth SEISS grant will cover May – September, with the value being determined by a turnover test. Those who turnover has fallen by 30% or more will receive 80% of 3 months’ average trading profits, up to a maximum of £7,500, while those whose turnover has fallen by less than 30% with receive a 30% grant, capped at £2,850. Details on how to claim the fifth grant will be available from late July 2021.

Further details can be found here.

New guidance has been published to help individuals find out if and when they may need to make a change to their Self Assessment tax return for SEISS payments, and how to do it. Individuals need to check their Self Assessment return if they have:

  • Already submitted their 2020 to 2021 Self Assessment tax return online
  • Claimed a SEISS grant during 2020 or 2021

HMRC may have made an adjustment to individuals returns if:

  • The amount of SEISS payments put in the SEISS box does not match their records
  • There was no SEISS amount entered
  • A Self Employment or partnership page was not submitted and SEISS payments were received

Reduced rate of VAT for hospitality, holiday accommodation and attractions:

VAT registered businesses may apply a temporary 5% reduced rate of VAT until 30 September 2021 on certain supplies relating to hospitality, hotel and holiday accommodation, and admissions to certain attractions. A 12.5% rate will apply for the subsequent six months until 31 March 2022. Find out more here.

Business Rates Holiday for Retail, Hospitality and Leisure

Businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors in England will not have to pay business rates until 30 June 2021. This will be followed by a 66% business rates relief for the period from 1 July 2021 – 31 March 2022. Find out more here.

Businesses who have not been eligible for the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Business rates relief will be able to benefit from a new fund announced by the Treasury. The announcement states that the funding will be distributed according to official data on the impacts of the pandemic on different sectors to ensure an even and more proportionate allocation of support across England. Find out more here.

Extension to Takeaway services

Restaurants, pubs and cafes will receive automatic freedoms to provide takeaway services for food (alcoholic drinks will continue to be subject to licensing laws) for another year until 23 March 2022. Find out more here.

Pavement Licenses

The guidance on pavement licenses, which enables businesses to set-up tables on footpaths outside their premises, has been updated as a result of the new Business and Planning Act 2020 (Pavement Licenses) (Coronavirus) (Amendment) Regulations 2021. These regulations have extended the period during for which the new pavement licenses can be granted through to 30 September 2022.

Arts Council England Funding

Arts Council England have put into place several funding streams to help address the COVID-19 crisis. To support the organisations and people working in arts and culture, they are delivering the government’s emergency funding package, and complementing it with their own grants programme. Find out more here.

Business Events Domestic Support Fund

VisitBritain/VisitEngland have launched a new Domestic Support Fund to kick-start the return of business events to the UK.

The fund is available for not-for-profit organisations and charities hosting meetings, conferences and events in the UK from 21 June to 17 December 2021. Events from 100 to 500 delegates taking place in the UK are eligible to apply.

The financial support available is based on the number of delegates attending, with up to £15,000 available for each event.

Government Guidance

The working safely during coronavirus guidance for England has been updated to reflect the changes from step 4. This includes six priority actions to take to protect yourself, your staff and your customers during coronavirus:

  1. Complete a health and safety risk assessment
  2. Turn people with COVID-10 symptoms away
  3. Provide adequate ventilation
  4. Clean more often
  5. Enable people to check in at your venue
  6. Communicate and train

Specific guidance has been published for certain sectors, including:

There is also different guidance available for:

Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government has published new guidance for local authorities and the owners and operators of lands open to the public on how to manage these settings in a COVID-safe manner.

The guidance covers:

  • Urban centres
  • Green spaces
  • Outdoor playgrounds
  • Outdoor gyms
  • Tourist hotspots, including beaches, the countryside and coastal areas

Other Guidance

  • VisitEngland is continuing to update a page on their Business Advice Hub, offering advice for tourism and event businesses affected by COVID-19.
  • UKHospitality have published COVID-19 secure advice and risk assessments for hospitality businesses and are also continually updating their FAQs as new guidance and regulations are laid down, which can be found here.
  • VisitBritain/VisitEngland are hosting a series of business recovery webinars over the coming weeks to help get businesses back on track following the pandemic. Registration details and more information on these webinars can be found here.
  • Liverpool BID Company, in consultation with Public Health England, Liverpool City Council, blue light services and other public bodies, have developed guidance to support businesses with external queues as lockdown is eased, found here.
  • The National Museum Directors’ Council have published Good Practice Guidelines on the Reopening of Museums, to help those in the museums sector understand how to work safely during the pandemic, found here.
  • The Meetings Industry Association (MIA) are inviting event professionals to sign up to their ‘Extraordinary Matters’ mailing list, to keep up-to-date with the latest discussions, information and advice regarding COVID-19.

VisitEngland have launched a UK-wide industry standard and consumer mark to provide a ‘ring of confidence’ for tourism as the sector works towards reopening.

The ‘We’re Good to Go’ industry standard and supporting mark means businesses across the sector can demonstrate that they are adhering to the respective

Government and public health guidance, have carried out a COVID-19 risk assessment and check they have the required processes in place.

To obtain the mark, businesses must complete a self-assessment through VisitEngland’s online platform before receiving certification and the ‘We’re Good to Go’ mark for display in their premises and online. An ‘alert’ system has also been set up to ensure that businesses signed up to the ‘We’re Good to Go’ industry standard are notified if there are changes to official guidance.

The scheme is free and open to all businesses across the sector.

Ahead of reopening in 2021, VisitBritain has linked its ‘We’re Good to Go’ consumer confidence scheme with the WTTC’s international ‘Safe Travels’ scheme. This means that any businesses not already part of ‘We’re Good to Go’ can apply to the scheme and indicate that they wish to use the WTCC stamp. Apply for or download the new logos here.

Join us for a Growth Platform webinar series to discuss what tech solutions are emerging to support the Visitor Economy following the global pandemic.
Catch up on our first webinar here, and our second webinar here.

Our North West Research and Strategy team has been providing the the latest review of research and intelligence from the Visitor Economy sector. We are currently sourcing further sources of intelligence. Download the reports below.

VisitEngland have commissioned a tracking survey to understand domestic intent to take short breaks and holidays both within the U and abroad and have been publishing their COVID-19 Consumer Sentiment Tracker. Access these reports here.

Access ALVA’s most recent Attractions Recovery Tracker (Wave 8 – Fieldwork: 21-27 April 2021) here to understand how to build trust and confidence among the attractions-visiting public.

You can also download the latest Tourism Data for Liverpool City Region here and the Liverpool City Region Hotel Occupancy Report 2021 here.

LCR Hotel Occupancy July 2021