reopening of hospitality

Hospitality is set to be the last sector to be re-opened in a three-phase release from lockdown in England, as the government prioritises schools and outdoor recreational contact.

Indications are the earliest date the government will reopen hospitality venues for indoor custom is May, with the nine most at risk groups on schedule to be vaccinated by mid April.

The PM is set to lay out England’s Covid re-opening ‘roadmap’ in the Houses of Parliament at 3.30pm today, in an address which will see localised measures and the Tier System dropped from policy.

Any timetable is contingent on the continued successful roll out of the vaccine, the vaccine’s efficacy, a reduction in hospitalisations and new variants not creating new and additional risk.

It is unclear whether the outdoor opening of hospitality could happen sooner.

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Furlough - due to end at the end of April - and the business rates holiday - scheduled to expire next month - are rumoured to be extended, though this could be announced at chancellor Rishi Sunak’s Budget on March 3.

The planned ‘Fundamental Review of Business Rates’ has been delayed until Autumn.

UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said of the rates review: “After the misery of last year, a properly functioning, equitable rates system is now more critical than ever. In the meantime, there is now no reason why the business rates holiday should not be extended for another year. Extend this support, along with the VAT cut, at the Budget, then deliver a whole new rates system that no longer unfairly penalises our sector.”