Information for Investors on Covid-19

We’re closely monitoring the Coronavirus (COVID-19) situation as it develops to ensure we are in the best position to work with the Government and other key partners to support businesses as effectively as possible. 

As it becomes available, this website will be updated with the latest information and advice to support tourism businesses at this extremely difficult time. On this page you can find information on:

Situation update: correct as of 17.00 31 March 2020

The Business Support Grant funding website was updated, adding information on state aid, monitoring requirements, post payment checks, and the eligibility of charities.

Following the Foreign Secretary’s Speech yesterday evening, some further information has been released on the partnerships with airlines to fly stranded Brits home. A letter to the airlines was also published.

Right to work checks have been temporarily adjusted due to coronavirus (COVID-19). This is to make it easier for employers to carry them out. As of 30 March 2020 the following temporary changes have been made:

  • checks can now be carried out over video calls
  • job applicants and existing workers can send scanned documents or a photo of documents for checks using email or a mobile app, rather than sending originals
  • employers should use the Employer Checking Service if a prospective or existing employee cannot provide any of the accepted documents

The Government is asking businesses if they can offer coronavirus (COVID-19) support. The support needed includes:

  • medical testing equipment, medical equipment design, protective equipment for healthcare workers, such as masks, gowns and sanitiser
  • hotel rooms, transport and logistics, for moving goods or people
  • manufacturing equipment
  • warehouse or office space, for medical use or storage
  • expertise or support on IT, manufacturing, construction, project management, procurement, engineering or communications
  • social care or childcare
  • Businesses can share the areas they can offer support through the online portal.

Other travel measures, advice and updates

  • British Airways is suspending all its flights to and from Gatwick.
  • From 1 April, Gatwick Airport is temporarily closing its North Terminal and all flights will operate from South Terminal. From Wednesday, Gatwick’s runway will only be open for scheduled flights between 2pm and 10pm.
  • Southend Airport is only open on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays between 4.30pm and 9.30pm.
  • Hull Trains will be temporarily suspending all train services from 00.01 on Monday 30 March 2020. Passengers with tickets for Hull Trains will be able to travel on alternative train services on the same date and route specified on the ticket. Arrangements have been made to make sure that tickets will be accepted by other train operators.

Situation update: correct as of 17.00 31 March 2020

Accommodation Guidance

Following the Prime Minister's announcement on 22nd March outlining further steps to tackle the spread of COVID-19, businesses providing holiday accommodation should now take steps to close for commercial use as quickly as is safely possible. Full consideration should be given to the possible exclusions for residents that should be allowed to remain. Any decision to close should be implemented in full compliance with the social distancing guidelines.

  • The guidance on the closure of all non-essential businesses and premises applies to any business providing holiday accommodation including short-term lets such as hotels, hostels, bed and breakfasts, campsites, boarding houses and caravan sites.
  • The Government has also issued further guidance and advice for those providing hotel and other accommodation in the UK. An exception has been made for key workers, who can continue to stay in hotels or similar where required, and for people living in these premises as interim abodes whilst their primary residence is unavailable. Where people live permanently in caravan parks, or are staying in caravan parks as interim abodes where their primary residence is not available, they may also continue to do so.
  • Hotels and accommodation providers that are remaining open to house key workers, vulnerable groups and other exempted groups will still be able to serve food, subject to the social distancing guidelines (for example by providing a takeaway service, ‘grab and go’ service or room service).
  • Where hotels, hostels, and B&Bs are providing rooms to support homeless people, through arrangements with local authorities and other public bodies, they should remain open.
  • Those attending a funeral will be able to use hotels when returning home would be impractical.
  • Hotels are allowed to host blood donation sessions.
  • Restaurants and catering outlets providing takeaway or delivery services can remain open.
  • Where hotels, hostels, and B&Bs are providing rooms to support homeless people, through arrangements with local authorities and other public bodies, they should remain open

Read more here...

A Letter from the Minister for Local Government and Homelessness, Luke Hall, to hotel chief executives regarding the exemption for hotels, hostels and B&Bs to open so as to offer accommodation to support key workers and vulnerable people was sent on 24th March.

Further useful guidance and advice to ensure the safety of your staff and guests can be found here:

Guidance for businesses offering takeaway or delivery

Temporary measures so that pubs and restaurants can operate as hot food takeaways to serve people having to stay at home:

  • Relaxation of planning measures will be introduced as soon as possible and will apply for a limited period 
  • Currently planning permission is required for businesses to carry out this change
  • The measures will apply to hot food and drinks. Serving alcoholic drinks will continue to be subject to existing licensing laws.
  • Permitted development rights allow movement between one use class and another for example from a restaurant (A3) to a shop (A1) without planning permission.
  • The government will introduce a time-limited development right through secondary legislation (negative SI) to allow the temporary change of use of a pub (A4 - drinking establishment) and a restaurant (A3 - restaurants and cafes) to a hot-food take away for a period of up to 12 months
  • Businesses will need to let local planning teams know when this starts and ends.

Further advice for food businesses is available here. Specifically around takeaways and businesses offering a pick up service it advises:

  • no orders should be taken in person on the premises - this should be communicated to customers by appropriate means such as signage
  • businesses should therefore only take orders online or by telephone
  • customers could have staggered collection times - customers should be discouraged from entering the premises until their order is ready
  • customers arriving without having already placed an order should be encouraged to leave the premises to place their order by telephone or online, and to return at a designated time for collection
  • customers whose orders are ready should enter one at a time to collect orders and make payments
  • businesses should discourage crowding outside the premises. Where possible, use queue management systems to maintain the 2 metres separation

Read more

Transport Information

Some train operators will be running reduced timetables across several routes due to COVID-19 Please check with individual train operators:

Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR)

  • Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR), which operates Southern, Thameslink, Great Northern and Gatwick Express, has today announced that it will move to a revised train timetable as the rail industry works together to manage and protect services for key workers.

  • Following a Government announcement that there will be a gradual reduction in train services across the country, GTR will introduce a reduced service on Monday 23 March. This will be followed by a further reduced timetable on Monday 30 March.

  • It is possible that further changes to services may be required at short notice. Passengers should check for the latest updates on the National Rail Enquiries website before travelling.

Read more here

 

Sector Representation and Monitoring

Visit Herts sits on the Tourism Industry Emergency Response Group (TIER) which currently holds weekly dial-in meetings with Government. This provides an important conduit for information from Government but also an opportunity to feed in performance and impact data directly to Ministers.

To feed into this group, we are tracking the impact on the sector by monitoring, closures, cancellations, reduction in footfall and forward bookings. Thank you to everyone who has been providing data to the team about this, please continue to send any relevant business updates to alanna.kite@visitherts.co.uk. We are also monitoring performance through our monthly business barometer which you can sign up to here.

You can read the statement we issued on 17th March 2020 here.

Financial Support for Businesses

Tourism and hospitality businesses have been some of the hardest hit by the COVID-19 outbreak and Visit Herts, along with colleagues from across the tourism and hospitality sector, have been ensuring that the impact on the sector and needs of our businesses are effectively communicated to Government to support our vital sector, to preserve jobs, the economy and future growth. In response the Chancellor announced a package of measures, the headlines of which are set out in detail on our coronavirus business funding and support for tourism businesses page.

We will update this page with the latest information on how to access the funding and financial support announced by the government and other organisations.

Other useful resources

In addition to this, we are also collating any other useful resources and information for businesses to access including free webinars, advice and training offered by other organisations, which can be accessed here

Communicating with businesses

Although the Visit Herts team are now working remotely, we will be increasing the number of communications going out to businesses and continuing with meetings, forums and events virtually by video conferencing, webinars and videos. You can still contact any member of the team by email or phone but for general enquiries, please contact enquiries@visitherts.co.uk

We have also launched a new Linkedin Forum for Herts Tourism and Hospitality businesses to share updates, ask questions and support each other. Anyone can request to join here.

Keep in touch by:

  • Checking updates on this page which will be updated regularly
  • Looking out for our regular newsletters. If you're not receiving our emails you can sign up here
  • Joining our new Linkedin group
  • Following us on Twitter
  • Following us on Linkedin

Visit Herts consumer messaging 

In light of recent events we have taken the decision to amend the Visit Herts content calendar. This will impact the type of features we will be writing and sharing on our channels. Our focus across our B2C channels over the coming weeks will be on outdoor activities that encourage exercise, but still conform to the government’s guidelines on social distancing, supporting local businesses, local heroes, and good news from our communities and general inspirational content.  

This does mean the majority of the features we had originally planned for Q2 may now be postponed or cancelled. Where possible, we will try to use content you have already submitted, but please do bear with us on this. With this in mind, we need information from you that we can use to swiftly create new features in order to continue engagement with our county, both virtually and locally.  

As usual, please submit all content ideas to forwarder@visitherts.co.uk As we need to pull this content together very quickly, you will see some tight deadlines below, but we will continue to monitor the above email address and add in content beyond these deadlines, where possible. 

Please also feel free to share this call out with other businesses within your area, as we hope to support as many local businesses as possible.  

  • Hertfordshire businesses going the extra mile - Are you offering vouchers, takeaways or deliveries to people’s doors? Tell us about them. Deadline – 26th March 
  • Local produce - Our followers still want to support their local suppliers. So whether you are remaining open and observing the government’s guidelines, are a supplier to a business that is, or you are doing deliveries to your customers doors, tell us about it. Deadline - 26th March 

  • Local heroes – tell us about the true heroes in your community who are doing all they can to brighten spirits. Whether it’s someone with a great Instagram account to follow, or they’re going out of their way to serve their customers, let us know. Deadline – 30th March
     
  • Gift ideas – over the coming weeks our followers will be celebrating birthdays and anniversaries, so do you have a good gift idea? A voucher that can be used at later date, that you’d like us to promote, or a special birthday hamper that can be delivered to their door? Deadline – 6th April
     
  • Memberships  We want to support our businesses during this difficult time and so will be promoting memberships consumers can still purchase. Are you extending your membership period from one year? Are consumers still able to benefit from your memberships virtually? Let us know. Deadline – 13th April  

ALVA press release

ALVA have issued a positive press release highlighting how ‘The UK’s top visitor attractions may be closed but they’re open online to the world, millions of online visitors are creating their own ‘UK tourism must-visit list’ of places to visit when attractions re-open their doors.’ Follow the link to read more

Join VisitBritain/VisitEngland’s marketing response

VisitBritain/VisitEngland has launched a social marketing campaign to keep Britain top of visitors’ minds during international and UK travel bans. The campaign aims to share inspirational content based on popular British culture such as recipes, TV and film shows, literature and more, for people to enjoy in their own homes. Find out how to get involved

Herts Big Weekend

We don’t want to cancel the Big Weekend; however, we also have the safety of the public and your businesses at the forefront of our minds. 

As it currently stands, we will be suspending the actual ticket draw until we have a clearer picture of any further restrictions the government puts in place and the wider impact of these measures across the industry. We will keep the registration and entry for the public open until the end of April at the very least.

To maximise the benefit that the Big Weekend campaign offers we will be adjusting the tickets in this year’s ballot to extend the redemption period to the end of 2020 (whilst maintaining the status as single-use only). We hope that this will provide an opportunity for the consumers to have something to look forward to and to re-engage them with those venues who have been affected by COVID-19.

We appreciate that you may want to adjust your offer, amend the terms of redemption or add particular exclusions, please submit any changes to bigweekend@visitherts.co.uk by Wednesday 25th March, if we do not hear from you we will assume that you are able to provide the current ticket offer and that you are able to accept redemption anytime up to the end of the year. Of course, if you decide that you need to withdraw from the campaign please let us know by emailing bigweekend@visitherts.co.uk.