Pubs and restaurants will be allowed to turn into takeaways during the coronavirus outbreak

Wednesday, 18th March 2020, 5:07 pm
Updated Wednesday, 18th March 2020, 5:07 pm
The new measures aim to aid businesses through the ongoing health crisis (Photo: Shutterstock)

Pubs and restaurants are to be allowed to turn into takeaways in a bid to help support those who are in self isolation due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a number of new measures on Tuesday 17 March that aim to aid businesses through the ongoing health crisis, including extending the business rates holiday to all businesses in the hospitality sector.

Relaxing planning regulations

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The newly announced measures include relaxing planning regulations to allow pubs and restaurants to start providing takeaways without a planning application.

A Downing Street spokeperson said, "We are going to change planning permission so that pubs and restaurants will be able to turn into takeaways or delivery straight away. That will serve two purposes - it will (also) help to get food to people who might be staying at home."

The measure will be a temporary change, but it is expected it “will make a real difference”.

Chancellor Sunak also said the government advice to avoid pubs, clubs and theatres was sufficient for businesses to claim on their insurance when they have cover for pandemics.

Government are ‘clearly listening’

The Chancellor’s announcements have been welcomed by the hospitality sector, with leaders describing it as “proper progress” on last week’s budget.

Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UKHospitality, said Mr Sunak had "clearly been listening" to help keep businesses in operation.

She said, "The focus now has to be on making sure that hospitality businesses can draw down the support loans and other funds while they still have businesses to operate, such are the levels of urgency for most businesses.

"We will wait with great anticipation and hope that the detail on employment support measures live up to the hype but, if they are substantive, this could amount to a really helpful raft of support - this needs to come urgently as jobs are being lost every day.

"Cash flow is the key focus for companies endeavouring to survive. We only hope that this can be enough."

Support for businesses large and small

On Tuesday, the government announced it is to provide government-backed loans worth £330 billion to support businesses in hospitality, retail and leisure sectors through the coronavirus pandemic.

Described by the Chancellor as an “unprecedented package”, the loans are equivalent to 15 per cent of GDP and could be extended further depending on demand.

Speaking at a press conference inside 10 Downing Street on Tuesday (17 Mar), Mr Sunak said he was extending the business rates holiday to all businesses in the hospitality sector and funding grants of up to £25,000 for smaller businesses.

For those currently in financial difficulty due to coronavirus, mortgage lenders will also offer a three-month mortgage holiday.

Mr Sunak assured that the government would “stand behind businesses small and large", announcing an "unprecedented package of government backed and guaranteed loans to support business to get through this".

He said, "Today I am making available an initial £330 billion of guarantees, equivalent to 15 per cent of our GDP.

"That means any business who needs access to cash to pay their rent, their salaries, suppliers or purchase stock will be able to access a Government backed loan or credit on attractive terms.

"And if demand is greater than the initial £330 billion I'm making available today, I will go further and provide as much capacity as required. I said whatever it takes, and I meant it."

Boris Johnson added that the government "must and will act with a profound sense of urgency" and would be like a "wartime government".