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COVID-19 advice for the leisure and hospitality industry


Whilst there are few sectors of the world's economy that have escaped unscathed from the coronavirus outbreak, the leisure and hospitality industry has been hit particularly hard, with many businesses forced to close or find new innovative ways of working.

The government announced on Tuesday 23 June that various businesses across the sector are allowed to open, provided they adhere to COVID Secure guidelines. However, venues such as nightclubs and gyms are to remain shut.

In light of this announcement, we have summarised guidance across our services relevant for those businesses in the leisure and hospitality sector, both for those that are remaining closed and those that are opening their doors on 4 July. 

How the leisure and hospitality sector is preparing for survival in a post-COVID world

Last week we hosted a webinar during which Rob Paterson, CEO of Best Western, James Mason, CEO of Welcome to Yorkshire, and Ben Lamb, Partner in Real Estate at Clarion, shared their experiences of the impact of the crisis to date and thoughts on the outlook for the future.

To read our summary of this event, please click here. To view this webinar please click here.

Track and trace - complying with data protection 

A potential requirement for individuals to register on entry to pubs and restaurants brings with it concerns about the impact on data protection rights and requires the government to once again find a balance between public health and protection and minimisation of personal data.

The leisure industry has raised concerns about how venues will capture the data, what they should do if a customer refuses to provide their data and whether the requirement to provide details could result in fewer visits to pubs and restaurants.  

Florence Maxwell, Associate in our Commercial Team, has explored the key data protection issues in her latest blog: Coronavirus, Corona and the GDPR.

Health and safety considerations for both customers and employees

The news of further easing of the restrictions will be greatly welcomed by many as a continuation of what feels like a return to some form of normality. However, the message remains that such businesses may only operate if it is safe to do so, both for its customers and its staff.

Lucy Alderson, Associate in our Regulatory Team discusses the elements leisure and hospitality companies need to consider in order to reopen safely in her blog: Coronavirus – what do businesses in the leisure and hospitality sector need to consider in order to reopen safely?

Hospitality events - cancel, postpone or "wait and see"?

As a consequence of the increasing emphasis on avoiding personal contact, numerous conferences and other events are being cancelled, and this is beginning to take its toll on the events and hospitality sectors in particular. We have recently been advising a number of clients in the hospitality sector on a wide range of issues in relation to the impact of the UK Government restrictions related to COVID-19 on event bookings and their cancellation and postponement, ranging from small one off events to large scale festivals, as well as related issues with suppliers and customers. 

If your business is in a similar position, John Mackle, Legal Director in our Dispute Resolution and Litigation Team has provided some insight in his blog: Hospitality events during COVID-19 - cancel, postpone or “wait and see”?

What to expect from the Flexible Furlough Scheme...

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is due to change from 1 July to allow employers to take advantage of the scheme while bringing employees back to work part-time if they wish. At the same time, the scheme will be gradually rolled back each month with employers increasingly being asked to shoulder more of the burden of wages until it is brought to an end on 31 October.

Chris Booth, Partner in our Employment Team has summarised the main changes for you in his latest employment blog: Coronavirus - What to expect from the Flexible Furlough Scheme?

Rental payments - protection for commercial tenants

The measures aimed at slowing the virus, have meant that many leisure tenants have been required to close their premises, often effectively shutting down the business and causing cash flow issues.

This has put considerable pressure on business occupiers of leasehold premises and given them concerns over paying their rent, but what are the options available?

Phillip Feather, Associate in our Real Estate Team, summarises the latest updates to the moratorium against landlords and the solutions available to both parties in his blog: Coronavirus - Extending the protections for commercial tenants.  

Distress in the leisure and hospitality sector

COVID-19 has had a catastrophic effect on the economy and one of those hardest hits has been the leisure sector, with many attractions, venues and hospitality establishments being forced to close their doors overnight. This will clearly be causing many in the sector severe financial distress as although the government has introduced some measures to ease the effect, not all have been able to access these and businesses major overheads will have remained static with cash flow being significantly reduced.

Alice Pratt, Partner in our Business Recovery and Insolvency Team has outlined the options available to allow distressed companies to restructure and put them in the best position to trade going forwards in her latest blog: Coronavirus - Distress in the leisure and hospitality sector.