As you may have heard, the UK may finally be saying goodbye to COVID-19 restrictions on the 19th of July! The long-awaited return of pubs, bars and restaurants is definitely on everyone’s mind this summer.
According to the BBC, Boris Johnson had announced that the government is looking to “move away from legal restrictions” which leaves people to make informed decisions on how to protect themselves from the spread. Upon the most recent Downing Street announcement, the rules expected to be lifted by July 19 include the following:
Social Distancing and Face Coverings:
- No limits on social contact
- 1m-plus rule removed (with exceptions in some settings such as ports of entry and medical environments)
- No legal requirements for face coverings (however these may be advised in specific spaces such as hospitals, healthcare and enclosed, crowded public spaces).
Events, hospitality, and entertainment sector:
- Nightclubs are allowed to reopen
- No capacity restrictions on businesses
- Hospitality businesses no longer require table service only
- No limit to the number of people allowed at:
- Weddings and funerals
- Concerts, theatres or sports events
- No legal requirements for Covid certificates at any venues or events
However, as COVID cases are rising again (and are expected to continue rising) due to restrictions easing, the existing rules are to be reviewed on July 12, 2021 with contact tracing and symptomatic testing to continue. Additionally, self-isolating remains a legal requirement if tested positive for COVID.
But what is the implication on businesses within the hospitality industry?
Over the course of the pandemic, the hospitality sector has suffered significantly with at least 18% of restaurants and 8% of pubs that have closed. In addition, Brexit repercussions have made it difficult for employers to recruit staff. In contrast to the rest of the UK, the ONS reports that London has the highest unemployment rate at 6.5% which fell by 0.3% as restrictions began to lift in February to April 2021. Among those unemployed, the majority are looking for work and are available to start immediately.
However, at the beginning of the year, the accountancy firm PwC, forecasted a decline in London’s population, which they estimated could fall by over 300,000 over this year. City-dwellers began to rethink their living situation over the lockdown as many jobs became remote. While the ONS reports that London continued to see the largest outflow of residents to other areas of the country as of July 2021. Thus, the demographic shift indicates that with more opportunities made available, migration out of the city could potentially decrease.
It’s important to be aware of the implications of these statistics as projections may influence future business decisions. Although, as we anticipate the official announcement that restrictions have been lifted, we have a few tips to help your business welcome your customers back and ensure a safe environment for your employees:
- Increase the frequency of handwashing and surface cleaning
- Mitigation measures to reduce the risk of transmission amongst staff and customers such as providing proper ventilation
- Implementing screens and barriers to separate people from one another
- Reducing the number of people coming into contact with one another – through ‘fixed teams’ or partnering
- Continuously monitor and understand the Government COVID-19 Secure guidelines
More information on working safely during COVID-19: