Trade bodies clarify reopening rules for business and local authorities
02 July 2020
Posted by: Chris Banks
Clarification of business responsibilities and local authority enforcement powers
Trade bodies UKHospitality, the British Beer & Pub Association and the British Institute of Innkeeping have produced an updated FAQ guidance briefing to help operators understand the Government’s reopening guidelines and how it is interpreted. The three organisations have also written to the Local Government Association warning against the blanket imposition of conditions on business.
Since the announcement of the reopening, UKH has heard from a number of businesses unclear about a number of issues including what is permitted in venues and enforcement of the new guidelines.
In particular, businesses had voiced their concerns about local authorities seeking to impose blanket restrictions on businesses such as the mandatory use of PPE on the premises, installation of plastic screens and other equipment, and a ban on showing live sport.
The FAQ document is intended to make interactions with local authority Environmental Health Officers, responsible for enforcement of the guidelines, easier.
UKHospitality Chief Executive Kate Nicholls said: “The Government’s guidelines provide enough flexibility to allow businesses to develop their own workable solutions for reopening. This is something UKHospitality pushed very hard for. We emphasised to Government that excessively rigid guidelines would not work for such a large and varied sector. The guidelines should give businesses the freedom they need to find solutions that work for them.
“Unfortunately, it seems this flexibility has come hand-in-hand with some confusion about how the guidelines should be applied. Some local authorities have taken a very hard-line approach to this and we have heard from some members worried that they will be subjected to unnecessary, onerous and retrograde restrictions that would seriously undermine their ability to make a success of reopening.
“This document collates the common themes and queries and, we hope, should make it easier for businesses to understand what they are and are not permitted to do. It should also provide them some peace of mind and reassurance when discussing matters with local authorities. This is a learning process for everyone.”
Steve Alton, BII Chief Executive commented: “We have worked closely with Government at all stages on the comprehensive guidelines that recognise the individual nature of pubs. Our members are fully committed to opening their venues safely and need a consistency in approach from all of the local authorities involved.”
Emma McClarkin, Chief Executive of the British Beer & Pub Association, said:
“Pubs have worked extremely hard to reopen safely from this weekend based on the Government guidelines. As an industry we have come together to develop FAQs to assist pubs in getting ready and give a consistent interpretation of the guidelines.
“The guidelines recognise that all pubs are unique and therefore need to undertake individual risk assessments to assess the measures they need in place to keep their customers and staff safe.
“We are urging local authorities and enforcement agencies to collaborate with pubs in a positive manner to facilitate this and for a pragmatic approach that does not go beyond the Government guidelines.”