James Shorthouse, Head of Alternative Markets at Colliers International, comments on today’s announcement from UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, regarding the reduction in the social distancing requirement to 1 metre+.
“Today’s announcement of a reduction in the social distancing requirement to 1 metre + is a positive and important step forward, enabling the hospitality sector to begin to restart and recover. Public health and safety is still the absolute priority, but the opportunity for thousands of businesses to reopen their doors, and for millions of staff to return to work will be a real boost to the economy, and help the whole population take another step back towards some form of normality.
“Business owners and operators have invested significant effort, and cash, in ensuring that their premises are able to trade safely, and the reduction from 2m to 1m+ means that they can now hope to run at break even or better.
“The safety measures that the Prime Minister has announced today needs to be implemented by businesses, and adhered to by customers, but it does finally feel that the opportunity to travel and stay overnight in an hotel, take a holiday, or even to just enjoy a meal in a pub or restaurant is at hand.
“Colliers has been working with clients across all leisure and hospitality sectors throughout the lockdown period and we know how much work has been going on in readiness for this day, to make sure that pubs, hotels, restaurants and holiday parks are ready to offer a safe and sincere welcome to returning customers.
“There are however still real concerns about how businesses can pay their bills and overheads in the short-term. Of most concern is the payment of rent, and the landlord/tenant relationship between property owners and operators. The tenanted pub sector landlords have, since the start of lockdown, proactively engaged with their tenants and agreeing rent holidays or deferrals to ensure that the operators are on as secure a financial footing as possible, so there are perhaps some lessons about the aligning of interests which could help inform the debate across the wider leisure and hospitality market sector to ensure that this diverse and vibrant part of the UK economy survives the next few months.”