Pubs and restaurants will be allowed to be turned into takeaways to help provide food for people in self-isolation due to coronavirus, the Government has announced.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a package of measures to support businesses through the crisis including extending the business rates holiday to all businesses in the hospitality sector.
The measures also include relaxing planning regulations to allow pubs and restaurants to start providing takeaways without a planning application.
The Government said that the measures will be introduced as soon as possible and will apply for a limited period.
A Downing Street spokesman 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 spokesman said it would be a temporary measure that was “straightforward but will make a real difference”.
Mr Sunak also said Government advice to avoid pubs, clubs and theatres was sufficient for businesses to claim on their insurance when they have cover for pandemics.
Sector leaders “cautiously” welcomed the Chancellor’s announcements and said it was “proper progress” on last week’s budget.
Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UKHospitality, said the Chancellor had “clearly been listening”.
The Chancellor announces further support in economic response to coronavirus. Read his address here: https://t.co/OA80az3TZY— UKHospitality (@UKHofficial) March 17, 2020
She added: “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.”
Chris Kelly, 43, who owns the Kelchner Brewery near Luton, said it sounded like the Government was “trying and that’s all we can ask for”.
He added: “The payment holiday on the mortgage would be good, that would help a lot.
“The grant, if I’m applicable, would help us a hell of a lot actually. That would be enough to help me pay all my suppliers, make sure I’m doing the right thing.
“Overall if that does exactly what I think it does then overall I’m okay.
“The proof’s in the pudding – I don’t know until I look into it and see what I can and can’t do, but at the moment it seems a very helpful way of doing things. Initially it sounds reasonable and it could be quite good.”
The Society of Independent Brewers (Siba) said that using loans to “bridge the gap” if the virus decimates cashflow went against rule number one of running a small business.
The Chancellor’s funding package followed pressure on the Government to help the hospitality industry as it faces a “dire” situation during the coronavirus pandemic.
At a press conference in Downing Street on Monday afternoon, Prime Minister Boris Johnson advised people to avoid pubs, clubs, theatres and other social venues.
But his approach was condemned as “staggeringly reckless” and industry leaders warned that firms will go out of business without urgent state help to get through the next few months.
The Association of British Insurers (ABI) warned that most firms will not have cover allowing them to claim compensation if they are forced to shut.
The British Beer and Pub Association wrote to Mr Johnson on Monday, demanding urgent steps to prevent mass job losses and permanent pub closures.
Chief executive Emma McClarkin said the industry is facing “an existential crisis” as a result of the new guidance, insisting thousands of jobs would be lost without financial help from the Government.
She said: “Forced pub closures without a meaningful support package will have a catastrophic financial and social impact.”