Covid -19 Update “Rule of six” and latest hospitality research

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1. I have been holding back on commenting on the new “rule of six” in England (and subsequent changes in Scotland and Wales) while pondering what these new measures really means in practice for businesses once they are applied from next Monday. I think that the simple message for local business partners in England is that they bring new, or reinforce existing duties, that are now backed by more recent and new penalties, including substantial fines and in the worst-case, closure orders (up to £10k for an illegal gathering). 

Businesses need to take the existing and new duties seriously and should reread and apply the guidance for their own sectors, all of which have now been updated to reflect the latest changes. Active enforcement by both the police and local authorities more generally, is being encouraged and is therefore now more likely, not least because identifying breaches of the rule of six is relatively simple for both the authorities and for the general public, who may or may not report their concerns, or vote with their feet. Much the same can be said about the rules in Wales and Scotland, albeit the definition of six and the rules and consequences still vary to differing degrees between all three Nations. https://www.gov.uk/guidance/working-safely-during-coronavirus-covid-19

Businesses in England need to understand that they should not inadvertently facilitate or allow groups of more than 6 to socialise indoors or out (unless in the special circumstances allowed, for example weddings in approved venues or family support bubble larger than 6) and they must now assiduously apply all covid-19 secure procedures, including track and trace (now a legal, not an advisory requirement).  Higher levels of enforcement are likely in many if not all areas over the coming weeks and months. The very real risk of heavy fines or closure orders must be avoided, as should the rapidly increasing risk of local spikes and local lockdowns both of which would have very serious consequences for individual and wider business survival and recovery.

I am not yet aware of any catastrophic consequences of the rule of six for any visitor economy business sectors currently open or in the process of reopen, although I can foresee issues, for example, for larger self-catering premises.  Please let me know if you are alerted to any significant issues.

2. The steady flow of specific covid-19 research is slowing as we transition from immediate impacts, through the end of the summer season and now move into the Autumn off peak and Winter low seasons, with some of the weekly surveys having been suspended.  The latest analysis, the 5th in the series on the hotel sector from Hotels Solutions can be found on our C-19 research page at: https://britishdestinations.net/c19-research/

3. Separately Andrew Keeling is advocating the need for further detailed research in to the hotel industry particularly within coastal destinations, in order to evidence the need for more targeted support for this sector. If any of our member destinations are interested in investigating how such research might be jointly commissioned then please let me know. If there is sufficient interest I will investigate the opportunities further.

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