Government updates affecting the tourism industry
Reopening businesses and venues in England
Further to the release of the UK Government’s COVID-19 four-step plan to ease lockdown in England, new guidance on reopening businesses and venues in England has been published. Please see a summary of the relevant guidance for tourism businesses below. We will continue to keep you informed as more information becomes available
Step 1 - from 8 March
Businesses permitted to open remain the same as currently allowed.
From 29 March
People can use these venues in a group of six people, or with members of up to two households.
- Outdoor sport facilities: Gyms, swimming pools, sports courts (such as tennis and basketball courts), golf courses, including mini golf, water sports venues, climbing walls, driving and shooting ranges, riding arenas at riding centres, archery venues.
Step 2 - no earlier than 12 April
At this stage the venues must only be attended/used in line with the wider social contact - as a single household or bubble indoors; or in a group of six people or two households outdoors (unless an exemption exists).
- Self-contained holiday accommodation in which all facilities (including for sleeping, catering, bathing, and indoor lobbies and corridors for entry and exit) are restricted to exclusive use of a single household/support bubble can reopen.
- Outdoor areas at hospitality venues (cafes, restaurants, bars, pubs, social clubs, including in member’s clubs) can reopen, including for takeaway alcohol. These venues may allow customers to use toilets located inside. At any premises serving alcohol, customers will be required to order, be served and eat/drink while seated (“table service”).
- Outdoor attractions can reopen at adventure parks and activities, animal attractions (such as at zoos, safari parks and aquariums), drive in events, such as for cinemas, theatres, and other performances, film studios, funfairs and fairgrounds, model villages, museums and galleries, skating rinks, theme parks, trampolining parks, water and aqua parks.
- Permitted businesses operating in otherwise closed attractions - such as a gift shop or a takeaway kiosk at a museum may only open where they are a self-contained unit and can be accessed directly from the street.
- Outdoor gatherings or events, organised by a business, charity, public body or similar organisation, can be organised, subject to complying with COVID-Secure guidance including taking reasonable steps to limit the risk of transmission, complete a related risk assessment; and ensure that those attending do not mix beyond what is permitted by the social contact limits
- This could enable spectators at a grassroots sports match or a village fete, provided people do not mix beyond groups of six people or two households.
- Indoor events that bring people together - even if they do not mix with other households - must not run until Step 3. However, at this point, funerals can continue to proceed with up to 30 attendees. Weddings, receptions, and commemorative events including wakes will be able to take place with up to 15 attendees (in premises that are permitted to open).
- Non-essential retail will reopen and includes retail travel agents.
- Personal care facilities and close contact services can reopen, including hair, beauty and nail salons, spas and massage centres (except for steam rooms and saunas), holistic therapy (including acupuncture, homeopathy, and reflexology).
- Indoor sports and leisure facilities will reopen including: gyms and leisure centres, sports courts, swimming pools, dance studios and fitness centres, driving and shooting ranges, riding arenas, archery venues, climbing wall centres.
Step 3 - no earlier than 17 May
At this stage the venues must only be attended/used in line with the wider social contact - in a group of six people or two households indoors; or in a group of no more than 30 people outdoors (unless an exemption exists).
- Remaining holiday accommodation can reopen
- Indoor areas of hospitality venues can reopen. As with outdoors, table service will be required.
- Indoor entertainment and visitor attractions can reopen, including cinemas, theatres, concert halls, museums and galleries, adventure playgrounds and activities, amusement arcades and adult gaming centres, bingo halls, casinos, bowling alleys, skating rinks, games, recreation and entertainment venues such as escape rooms and laser quest, play areas (including soft play centres and inflatable parks), model villages, snooker and pool halls, trampolining parks, water and aqua parks, indoor visitor attractions at theme parks and film studios, indoor attractions at zoos, safari parks, aquariums and other animal attractions, indoor attractions at botanical gardens, greenhouses and biomes, indoor attractions at sculpture parks, indoor attractions at landmarks including observation wheels or viewing platforms, indoor attractions at stately or historic homes, castles, or other heritage sites, conference centres and exhibition halls, including for the purposes of business events (subject to the capacity limits set out below).
- Remaining outdoor entertainment events, such as cinemas, theatres, and other performance events will also be permitted.
- Both outdoor and indoor gatherings or events, organised by a business, charity, public body or similar organisation can be organised, subject to them complying with COVID-Secure guidance.
- Spectators will be allowed at elite sporting events and performance events. Attendance at these events will be restricted to 50% of capacity up to 1,000 people for indoor events, and 50% of capacity up to 4,000 people for outdoor events. For outdoor events taking place in venues with seated capacity of over 16,000, event organisers may apply a 25% capacity cap, up to a maximum of 10,000 seated people.
- Large business events will also be able to go ahead, subject to the same capacity requirements as sporting events and performances.
Step 4 - no earlier than 21 June
- The hope at this stage is to reopen remaining settings such as nightclubs and adult entertainment venues.
- To lift the restrictions on social contact and large events that apply in Step 3. This is subject to the outcome of the Events Research Programme, and a review of social distancing measures.
- The Government will also look to relax COVID-Secure requirements on businesses, subject to the outcome of the reviews.
Roadmap for easing of restrictions in England announced
In his statement to the House of Commons today, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the government roadmap that outlines how lockdown restrictions will be eased in England. The roadmap is in four steps. Before proceeding to the next step, the Government will examine the data to assess the impact of previous steps.
This assessment will be based on four tests:
- The vaccine deployment programme continues successfully.
- Evidence shows vaccines are sufficiently effective in reducing hospitalisations and deaths in those vaccinated.
- Infection rates do not risk a surge in hospitalisations which would put unsustainable pressure on the NHS.
- Assessment of the risks is not fundamentally changed by new variants of concern.
There will be a minimum of five weeks between each step: four weeks for the data to reflect changes in restrictions; followed by seven days’ notice of the restrictions to be eased.
The full roadmap document is available here. A simplified table of the steps is available on pages 47-48. See below for a summary of the key points:
Step 1 (two parts split between 8 and 29 March)
From 8 March:
People will be allowed to spend time in outdoor public spaces for recreation on their own, with one other person, or with their household or support bubble. People must continue to maintain social distance from those outside their household. This is in addition to outdoor exercise which is already permitted.
There will continue to be restrictions on international travel. Holidays will not be a permitted reason to travel. Those seeking to leave the UK must complete an outbound declaration of travel form ahead of departure.
From 29 March
People will no longer be legally required to stay at home, but some restrictions will remain such as continuing to work from home where possible and minimising all travel. The rule of six will return for outdoors, and meetings of two households will also be permitted. This includes in private gardens.
Outdoor sports and leisure facilities will be able to reopen and formally organised outdoor sports will be able to resume, subject to guidance.
Step 2 – from 12 April at the earliest, subject to an assessment of the data against the four tests
Outdoor gatherings must still be limited to six people or two households as in Step 1, and no indoor mixing will be allowed unless otherwise exempt. Additional premises will be able to reopen but should only be visited alone or with household groups:
- Non-essential retail
- Personal care premises such as hairdressers, salons and close contact services
- Indoor leisure facilities such as gyms and spas (but not including saunas and steam rooms, which are due to open at Step 3).
- Public buildings such as libraries and community centres
- Hospitality venues for outdoor service, without any curfew or the requirement for alcohol to be accompanied by a substantial meal - customers must order, eat and drink while seated
- Most outdoor settings and attractions including outdoor hospitality, zoos, theme parks, drive-in cinemas/performances/events will reopen
- Domestic overnight stays will be allowed and self-contained accommodation - those that do not require shared use of bathing, entry/exit, catering or sleeping facilities - can also reopen, though must only be used by members of the same household.
- Weddings, receptions, and commemorative events including wakes will be able to take place with up to 15 attendees (in premises that are permitted to open).
- International holidays will not be permitted.
All newly open settings must abide by the social contact rules. This will be accompanied by mitigations including workforce testing and continued social distancing guidance. People should continue to work from home where they can and minimise domestic travel where they can. International holidays will still be prohibited.
Step 3 – from 17 May at the earliest and at least five weeks after Step 2
Most legal restrictions on meeting others outdoors will be lifted, but gatherings of more than 30 people outdoors will remain illegal. Indoors, people will be able to meet socially in a group of six, or with one other household (though it may be possible to go further than this at Step 3 depending on the data). COVID-Secure guidance will remain in place and premises must not cater for groups larger than the legal limits.
Sectors which will reopen include:
- Indoor hospitality, with no requirement for a substantial meal to be served alongside alcoholic drinks, and no curfew. The requirement to order, eat and drink while seated (‘table service’) will remain;
- Remaining outdoor entertainment, such as outdoor theatres and cinemas;
- Indoor entertainment, such as museums, cinemas and children’s play areas;
- Remaining accommodation, such as hotels, hostels and B&Bs;
- Adult indoor group sports and exercise classes; and
- Some large events, including conferences, theatre and concert performances and sports events.
- Controlled indoor events of up to 1,000 people or 50% of a venue’s capacity, whichever is lower, will be permitted, as will outdoor events with a capacity of either 50% or 4,000 people, whichever is lower.
- The Government will also make a special provision for large, outdoor, seated venues where crowds can be safely distributed, allowing up to 10,000 people or 25% of total seated capacity, whichever is lower.
- In addition, pilots will run as part of the Events Research Programme to examine how such events can take place without the need for social distancing using other mitigations such as testing.
- Weddings, receptions, funerals, and commemorative events including wakes can proceed with up to 30 attendees.
- A broader range of stand-alone life events will also be permitted at this step, including bar mitzvahs and christenings.
Step 4 – from 21 June at the earliest, and at least five weeks after Step 3
With appropriate mitigations in place, by Step 4, the Government aims to remove all legal limits on social contact, reopen the remaining closed settings, including nightclubs and enable large events, theatre performances, above the Step 3 capacity restrictions (subject to the outcome of the scientific Events Research Programme) and remove all limits on weddings and other life events, subject to the outcome of the scientific Events Research Programme.
Read the press release here.
In parallel to these steps, four formal reviews will also take place on the issues of:
- Social distancing and face masks
- The resumption of international travel – the global Travel Taskforce will report on 12 April with recommendations aimed at facilitating a return to international travel as soon as possible while still managing the risk from imported cases and variants of concern. Following that, the Government will determine when international travel should resume, which will be no earlier than 17 May.
- COVID status certification to enable reopening of businesses, mindful of discrimination and privacy
- The return of major events
Further details of business support will come from the Chancellor’s budget next Wednesday. A plan for reacting to local outbreaks will also be published next month, with measures to tackle new variants. He could not rule out implementing restrictions at a local level if required.
- The Business support package for January 2021 lockdown document as part of Local Restrictions Support Grants (LRSG), Additional Restrictions Grant (ARG), Christmas Support Payment (CSP) for wet-led pubs: guidance for local authorities has been updated with details of the next payment cycle covering the period 16 February to 31 March.
- Coronavirus (COVID-19) testing before you travel to England has been updated to state that Myanmar has been added to list of countries where you do not need to take a coronavirus test before travel to England.
New guidance for internationals arrivals from 15 February (England)
Details of the steps individuals need to take before entering England, on arrival and during quarantine have now been published on gov.uk
- Take a coronavirus (COVID-19) test and get a negative result during the 3 days before travel - this includes UK citizens. Proof of a negative coronavirus test is needed to travel to England – this includes UK citizens.
- Book and pay for a travel test package, which will include COVID-19 tests to be taken on or before day 2 and on or after day 8 of your quarantine. Everyone must book a travel test package – this costs £210.
- Complete a passenger locator form with details of where they will be home quarantining on arrival and the travel test package booking reference number
If people are travelling from somewhere in the Common Travel Area and you have not left the Common Travel Area for the past 10 days, they do not need a test before leaving or to home quarantine and take tests after arriving.
New guidance for booking and staying in a quarantine hotel for England
The guidance details how to book a place in a quarantine hotel (the link to the booking portal is due to be available later today) and arrange coronavirus (COVID-19) tests for people who have travelled to England from a country on the banned travel list. The costs have been confirmed as follows:
- Rate for 1 adult in 1 room for 10 days (11 nights): £1750
- Additional rate for 1 adult (or child over 12): £650
- Additional rate for a child aged 5–12: £325
All package prices will be reviewed before the end of March and may change. While hotels normally set a zero fee for children aged under 3, the Government is setting this for children under 5 years old because they will not be tested. For those facing significant financial hardship as a result of this charge, there will be an opportunity to apply for a deferred repayment plan when booking. This is only available for individuals who already receive income-related benefits, and they will be required to pay back in 12 monthly installments.
The only ports of arrival in England for people arriving from banned travel list locations currently are - Heathrow Airport, Gatwick Airport, London City Airport, Birmingham Airport, Farnborough Airfield. Other ports of entry may be added in the future. People are responsible for changing their own booking if they are not due to land at one of these airports. After 15 February carriers will not be permitted to carry anyone who has been in a red list country in the previous 10 days to any other port of entry other than those specified.
Flexible repayment options announced for Bounce Back Loan borrower
Today, the Chancellor announced repayment flexibilities for Bounce Back Loan borrowers, with the ability to tailor payments according to individual circumstances. The scheme provides the option for small and medium-sized businesses to access finance more quickly during the coronavirus outbreak.
The new options include:
- Extending the length of the loan from six to ten years (reducing monthly repayments by almost half),
- Making interest-only payments for six months, with the option to use this up to three times throughout the loan
- Pausing repayments for up to six months. This will be available to all from their first repayment, rather than after six repayments have been made. This means that businesses can choose to make no payments on their loans until 18 months after they originally took them out.
This is in addition to the Government covering the costs of interest for the first year of the loan.
From today lenders should begin reaching out to borrowers to provide information on repayment schedules and how to access flexible repayment options. Borrowers should only expect correspondence three months before their first repayments are due.
Small and medium-sized businesses can apply to borrow between £2,000 and up to 25% of their turnover. The maximum loan available is £50,000. The scheme is open to applications until 31 March 2021.
If a business already has a Bounce Back Loan but borrowed less than they were entitled to, the existing loan can be topped up to the maximum amount. The top-up request must be made by 31 March 2021.
Mandatory hotel quarantine to be introduced from 15 February
Today the Government announced that from 15 February anyone travelling to the UK from a country on the UK’s travel ban list will be required to quarantine in a government-approved facility for 10 days.
The Department for Health and Social Care have issued a commercial specification to hotels near ports and airports, asking for proposals on how they can support the delivery of managed quarantine facilities ahead of formal contracts being awarded.
Further details will be set out next week on how passengers will be able to book into the designated accommodation facilities.
The government is also working closely with the devolved administrations of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland as the changes come into effect.
Read the press release on hotel quarantine.
Guidance published on how to apply for a Kickstart Scheme grant
The Kickstart Scheme provides funding to create new job placements for 16 to 24 year olds on Universal Credit who are at risk of long term unemployment. Employers of all sizes can apply for funding which covers:
- 100% of the National Minimum Wage (or the National Living Wage depending on the age of the participant) for 25 hours per week for a total of 6 months
- Associated employer National Insurance contributions
- Employer minimum automatic enrolment contributions
Find out more information on eligibility, how to apply and the job placement criteria here.
Applications for Christmas Support Payment for wet-led pubs extended (England)
The Christmas Support Payment (CSP) supports wet-led pubs that have been severely impacted over the Christmas period due to temporary local restrictions. The deadline for applications for the Christmas Support Payment has been extended to 28 February 2021.
Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) update
Claims for the third SEISS grant have now closed. The last date for making a claim for the third grant was 29 January 2021. Details about the fourth grant will be announced on 3 March 2021.
Travel advice: coronavirus (COVID-19)
On 27 January the UK Government announced new rules for outbound and inbound passengers. The page has been updated to reflect this - under current UK COVID-19 restrictions. People must stay at home. They must not travel, including abroad, unless they have a legally permitted reason to do so. It is illegal to travel abroad for holidays and other leisure purposes. Check the rules that apply in England.