Trade bodies welcome Government’s Living with Covid plan

By Joe Lutrario

- Last updated on GMT

Trade bodies welcome Government’s Living with Covid plan

Related tags Coronavirus ukhospitality Bbpa Night Time Industries Association

Trade bodies have welcomed most elements of the Government’s Living with Covid plan, which will see an end to the self-isolation requirement for people who test positive from later this week.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced yesterday that he will no longer ask vaccinated contacts of a positive test to self-isolate for seven days and the legal requirement for close contacts who are not vaccinated to self-isolate will also be removed. 

However, adults and children who test positive will still be advised to stay at home while they are ill. 

Routine contact tracing will end because contacts will no longer be required to isolate or take a test.  

February 24 will also the removal of domestic regulations which grant councils the power to shut down local areas if there is a Covid outbreak and the scrapping of Covid self-isolation payments worth £500 for people on low incomes. 

On March 24, the Government will remove  Covid provisions on statutory sick pay and employment support allowance. 

“It is heartening to hear that we are now moving to trading based on the safety measures that businesses have put in place and we hope that this will ignite consumer confidence in our sector and beyond,” says UKHospitality CEO Kate Nicholls. 

“The hospitality industry has proved that its venues are safe for staff and consumers and that, when allowed to trade without restrictions, it can be a major driver of economic growth and recovery. We are pleased to see that much of our 5-point plan for living with Covid has been taken forward by Government.” 

But in her response to the plan Nicholls also highlighted that hospitality was hit first, longest and hardest by the pandemic and that the Government should commit to keeping VAT at 12.5% beyond April "at the very least" in order for the “industry to be able to play its full role in the UK’s social and economic recovery.”

Other trade bodies took a similar tack in welcoming the plan but also highlighting the need for further Government support.

British Beer and Pub Association chief executive Emma McClarkin said that moving beyond Covid restrictions marked an "important milestone in the road to recovery for pubs".

"A recent study from CGA which found that 70% of people now feel confident about visiting pubs, bars and restaurants so we are hopeful that we have seen the last of any restrictions," continued McClarkin, who urged the Government to support her sector’s recovery by continuing to reduce its "punitive tax burden". 

Night Time Industries Association CEO Michael Kill  welcomed the news but requested further economic support for our the late night sector in order for it to regain consumer confidence and ensure a full recovery from the pandemic.

“Despite this most recent announcement, we will remain focussed on our responsibility to keep customers and staff safe, maintaining baseline mitigations as we have done since the 19 July 2021,” he said. 

“Experts have suggested that recovery to pre-Covid trading levels will take several years, but even this will require the helping hand of Government in supporting the sector, beginning with the Chancellor’s upcoming Spring Statement.”

“Businesses will be making investment and staffing decision based on the Chancellor’s statement. With many businesses still in a precarious position, ensuring the right support package is in place will be critical.”

“We are calling for the extension of VAT & business rates relief to allow businesses the financial headroom to survive. This is a sector that has sacrificed more than just about any other part of the economy, and it seems right that continued support is commensurate with the scale of hit that we took during the pandemic.”

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