This is a summary of the measures introduced by the Government to combat COVID-19 that will impact on fast food outlets, cafes, coffee shops and restaurants and the financial assistance from the Government available for these types of businesses.
- Lock down situation
- Regulations came into force at 2pm on 21 March 2020 requiring all restaurants and cafes not to sell food or drink for consuming on the premises - and any part of the premises, or part of the premises, in which food or drink are sold for consumption on such premises must be closed. These restrictions will be reviewed in 28 days from the date the Regulations came into force. The Regulations allowed takeaway and delivery from restaurants and cafes
- The Prime Minister's Statement of 23 March 2020 provided that People will only be allowed to leave their home for the following very limited purposes:
- shopping for basic necessities, as infrequently as possible
- oone form of exercise a day - for example a run, walk, or cycle - alone or with members of your household;
- any medical need, to provide care or to help a vulnerable person; and
- travelling to and from work, but only where this is absolutely necessary and cannot be done from home.
- The Prime Minister stated to ensure compliance with the Government’s instruction to stay at home, it would immediately:
- close all shops selling non-essential goods, including clothing and electronic stores and other premises including libraries, playgrounds and outdoor gyms, and places of worship;
- stop all gatherings of more than two people in public – excluding people you live with;
- stop all social events, including weddings, baptisms and other ceremonies, but excluding funerals.
- Government guidance states that people can continue to enter premises to access takeaway services, including delivery drivers but Government guidance on social distancing must be complied with (two meters between customers and shop assistants, small groups only and queue control)
- The Government will look at these restrictions in three weeks, and relax them if the evidence shows they are able to.
- Government aid for employees
New Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme ("furlough grant")
Statutory Sick Pay “SSP” for Small or medium sized businesses
- SSP is payable to qualifying employees and is now payable from day 1 for those who self-isolate or are unwell because of COVID-19 (the first 3 days are normally unpaid). The current rate of SSP is £94.25 per week.
- HM Treasury has announced that small and medium sized employers (those with fewer than 250 employees) may recover this cost where SSP has been paid as a result of COVID-19 from 13 March for a maximum of two weeks’ sickness per employee.
Extra support for the welfare system
- Increasing the Universal Credit standard allowance, for the next 12 months, by £1,000/year
- Increasing the Working Tax Credit basic element, for the next 12 months, by £1,000/year
- Government support for hospitality business
COVID Commercial Financing Facility (CCFF) for large companies
Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) for small businesses
Grants for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses
Support for businesses that pay little or no business rates (“small companies”)
Time to Pay arrangements “TTP”
Deferral of VAT
Grants through the coronavirus Self-employed Income Support Scheme
- this is a self-employed support scheme which gives self-employed workers a taxable grant of up to 80% of average monthly earnings for the next three months
- to qualify you must have trading profits of less than £50,000 and more than half of your income must come from self-employment and you must have submitted a tax return for tax year 2019/20
- the grant will be paid in one instalment and this payment is expected to be in early June
- HMRC will contact directly those eligible for the scheme and invite them to apply online
- Self-employed individuals who have not yet submitted their tax returns for tax year 2018/2019 have until 23 April 2020 to do so and still be eligible for this support
- Government support for commercial tenants
Protection from eviction for commercial tenants
- Commercial tenants who cannot pay their rent because of COVID-19 will be protected from eviction
- These measures mean no business will automatically forfeit their lease and be forced out of their premises if they miss payment up to 30 June 2020
- There is an option for the Government to extend this period if necessary
- This is not a rental holiday. All commercial tenants will still be liable for their rent but are protected from eviction if they are unable to pay their rent
- This change will come into force when the Coronavirus Bill receives Royal Assent (shortly after 25 March 2020)
- Practical effect of this measure is to remove the immediate cashflow pressure of quarter rent day but the Government has made clear that the negotiation is now with lessee and landlord to reach a solution on payment
Click here for further detail on the new funding initiatives.
See also our Coronavirus (COVID-19) page.