Information for Tourism Businesses 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 18 May 2020 

Daily Government press briefing

Today’s press briefing was led by Dominic Raab and Jonathan Van Tam. The update focussed on a health update, testing and the update of anosmia symptoms (the loss of smell and taste) being added to the self-isolate advice. During the Q+A there was a question on camping, Van Tam said that he stands ready to give advice on this when the Government asks for it. When asked about the proposed quarantine measures for passengers arriving into the UK, Van Tam explained that there was previously quarantine advice on people arriving from Wuhan and then Italy. On the new advice he said that the virus had now spread internationally, and as we drive down our infection rate there must be action to limit inbound infection. A question from Wales asked about the divergence in advice and tourists still visiting North Wales. Raab said that there had been good cooperation between the devolved nations, and that different levels of lockdown were understandable given different R rates. He said that people need to be mindful of the different regulations in place. You can watch the full briefing here.

Nicola Sturgeon gave a press briefing today announcing that a route map for the lifting of lockdown measures in Scotland will be published on Thursday. She said the measures could begin to be lifted from 28 May. She also said that this would mean people could meet someone from another household as long as social distancing is maintained and more outdoor activities and sports like golf and fishing will also be allowed. We will share a summary of the route map on Thursday.

First Minister Arlene Foster in a briefing today has announced some easing of lockdown restrictions in Northern Ireland as part of the first step of their recovery plan. Outdoor gatherings of up to 6 will be allowed, places of worship can open for individual prayer and some outdoor activities will be permitted -  these measure are allowed but social distancing and public hygiene must be observed.

Latest Government updates

  • The UK Government has announced an additional £58 million to help the devolved administration in Scotland respond to the challenge of the coronavirus.
  • An extra £35 million to support Wales in the fight against coronavirus has been announced.
  • A written statement by Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has been published regarding the support funding package for Transport for London.
  • £35m to protect freight routes – the government has signed agreements with six operators to protect 16 routes covering the Channel, the Short Strait, the North Sea and routes between Great Britain and Northern Ireland which were previously at risk of closure due to a drop in demand as a result of coronavirus. They will now be designated as Public Service Obligation routes for a period of up to 9 weeks to prevent disruption to the flow of goods.
  • DCMS is currently tendering a £100,000 research project looking at the impact of Coronavirus on the UK tourism industry under different scenarios and the impact of various possible Government intervention mechanisms. The contract period is through to June 2021, although it would be hoped that the results of the research would be available before then in order to best help support tourism businesses.
  • The number of the Government’s Coronavirus Business Support Helpline that provides advice to businesses on what support mechanisms are available has changed to 0800 998 1098.  In addition to the helpline there is also a webchat service that is available. Both are open from 9am to 6pm Monday to Friday.
  • New Taskforce Developing Plan to Reopen Places of Worship.  The first meeting of this Taskforce has been held, at which it was agreed to develop a plan to enable the phased and safe reopening of places of worship subject to scientific advice. At the moment Places of worship are scheduled to reopen from 4 July (similar to tourism and hospitality businesses) but it is unclear at this stage as to whether the work that is being undertaken by this group is concentrating on worshippers or includes the ability for people to visit church and cathedrals.
  • The Government has updated its advice and the booking process to people trying to book a charter flight in order to return to the UK as a result of Coronavirus.
  • A trial has launched to see if sniffer dogs could be used to detect people suffering from the virus. This research opens the possibility of maybe being able to use specially trained dogs in locations such as airports in future.

Campaigning for the sector

  • The Professional Association for Self-Caterers UK is sharing regular COVID-19 updates and advice for self-catering businesses including Government information and support, deferring bookings and other tips. Businesses can sign-up to their newsletter on the PASC website.
  • ABTA is calling for industry-wide action to ‘Save Future Travel’. Individuals and businesses can get involved by visiting savefuturetravel.co.uk and emailing their local MP to highlight industry asks. The online system is automated so it’s very easy and quick to use. ABTA also want supporters to use social media to contact their local MPs and Government Ministers using #savefuturetravel and calling for action.
  • Tourism Alliance, The British Holiday & Home Parks Association and UKHospitality have been leading a new social media campaign to #ProtectTourismJobs. The campaign is to raise awareness and give a voice to tourism businesses and professionals who are suffering due to COVID-19. Key areas that are being focussed on include helping ensure seasonal workers are included in the furlough scheme, broadening the furlough scheme to include essential maintenance and security staff and making sure businesses survive the winter period. You can join the conversation on twitter using #ProtectTourismJobs
  • VisitBritain/VisitEngland has sent an open letter of support to the international events sector to show unity to the industry as it grapples with the COVID-19 crisis. The #StrongerTogether campaign shares the message that the UK is ready to support them and the industry’s recovery, and ready to welcome their events to the UK when the time is right. The UK business events industry are encouraged to get involved and join the conversation, a video asset can be downloaded to share on your own social media channels. To download the video and find out more visit the VisitBritain.org website.
  • UK Event businesses are encouraged to participate in a COVID-19 survey which will assist in recovery for the events industry. The survey is being run by The Business Visits and Events Partnership the results of the survey will be shared with the Events Industry Board and DCMS. You can take part in the survey here

Local Transport Information

Southeastern update

Southeastern is working to support efforts to delay the spread of coronavirus and to keep their train services running for essential travel.
From Monday 23rd March a reduced timetable will be introduced until further notice to ensure that vital train services for key workers can keep running throughout a prolonged coronavirus outbreak. Wherever possible they will ensure that early morning and late evening services remain in timetables so that key workers like nurses, police officers and firefighters can get to work.

All their stations will remain open, and on some routes passengers may need to change trains to complete their journeys.
Passengers should check before they travel using online journey planners and the amended timetable will be available in online journey planners by Sunday 22 March.

A map of the planned service can be found on their website.

Stagecoach

School services
In light of the planned school closures, Stagecoach is making some adjustments to their services from Monday 23rd March. They will operate a normal school holiday service on all routes in Kent and East Sussex. However, they will review this on a daily basis to identify any extra journey requirements and be ready to make adjustments as required.

M2 - Stagecoach Express
From 28th March the section of the route between Chatham Maritime and London (North Greenwich ) will cease to operate. Between 29th March and 22 May, the route will only operate between Canterbury and Chatham Waterfront Bus Station, serving all listed stops in-between. The last day of operation for the route will be Friday 22nd May 2020.

More information can be found on their website.

Arriva

Emergency timetables will be introduced on many Arriva services in Kent and Surrey from Monday 23 March 2020.

More information can be found on their website. 

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.

Read more

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 24 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

Sector Representation and Monitoring

Visit Kent 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 louisa.mungall@visitkent.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.

  •  The Professional Association for Self-Caterers UK is sharing regular COVID-19 updates and advice for self-catering businesses including Government information and support, deferring bookings and other tips. Businesses can sign-up to their newsletter on the PASC website.
  • ABTA is calling for industry-wide action to ‘Save Future Travel’. Individuals and businesses can get involved by visiting savefuturetravel.co.uk and emailing their local MP to highlight industry asks. The online system is automated so it’s very easy and quick to use. ABTA also want supporters to use social media to contact their local MPs and Government Ministers using #savefuturetravel and calling for action.
  • Tourism Alliance, The British Holiday & Home Parks Association and UKHospitality have been leading a new social media campaign to #ProtectTourismJobs. The campaign is to raise awareness and give a voice to tourism businesses and professionals who are suffering due to COVID-19. Key areas that are being focussed on include helping ensure seasonal workers are included in the furlough scheme, broadening the furlough scheme to include essential maintenance and security staff and making sure businesses survive the winter period. You can join the conversation on twitter using #ProtectTourismJobs
  • VisitBritain/VisitEngland has sent an open letter of support to the international events sector to show unity to the industry as it grapples with the COVID-19 crisis. The #StrongerTogether campaign shares the message that the UK is ready to support them and the industry’s recovery, and ready to welcome their events to the UK when the time is right. The UK business events industry are encouraged to get involved and join the conversation, a video asset can be downloaded to share on your own social media channels. To download the video and find out more visit the VisitBritain.org website.
  • The #RaiseTheBar campaign is calling on the Government to amend the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant by raising the rateable value threshold from £51,000 to £150,000, allowing more businesses in the sector to benefit from the support. Visit their website the sign the petition.
  • The Night Time Industries Association has launched #TheBigFreeze campaign asking the government to freeze loans/mortgages to allow landlords to give leaseholders rent free periods during the crisis. You’ll find more information, including a sample letter for your MP here

Financial Support for Businesses

Tourism and hospitality businesses have been some of the hardest hit by the COVID-19 outbreak and Visit Kent, 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 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.

You can find these resources and links here.

Communicating with businesses

Although the Visit Kent 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@visitkent.co.uk

We have also launched a new Linkedin Forum for Kent 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 Kent consumer messaging

During this time, the Visit Kent consumer channels will also shift in tone to ensure our content is in line with the Government's social distancing guidelines but continues to showcase the county and fantastic businesses. Over the coming weeks we will focus on supporting local businesses, local heroes, positive community stories and inspiring 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@visitkent.co.uk.