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Hospitality vs high street: How the government roadmap splits our industry

The Prime Minister's “cautious but irreversible” measures to ease restrictions are welcomed by many, but long delays for the hospitality sector and a lack of clarity on financial support cools the positive response

The much-anticipated English ‘roadmap’ announcement at 3.30pm on February 22 was a tale of two halves for spa businesses, depending on their location: high street or hospitality.

According to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, subject to a seven-day review of the scientific data by government, spas, beauty salons, hairdressers and nail salons will be able to open from Step 2, which begins on April 12, under the newly formed ‘Personal Care’ categorisation.

However, hotel and resorts have been given Step 3, which begins on May 17, “as the earliest date for reopening,” stated Johnson in his address to the House of Commons. This will also depend on further evaluation of Covid infection rates and hospitalisation figures nearer the time. This later opening does throws up significant number of challenges for spas reopening by the earlier date in these settings. Technically, they can, but according to the UK Spa Association, this will be at the discretion of the hotel’s management.

“After months of planning, pivoting and hope, we now have some good news and tentative dates, but clearly, there still seems to be a fundamental lack of understanding about how spa therapies, wellbeing facilities and personal care services are viewed by the government.”

Sarah Camilleri

Founding editor and publisher, European Spa

These dates, driven by the UK’s successful vaccination programme, were much welcomed by industry, but will be double-edged for those involved in wellness hospitality with hotel spas – and their revenues – left once again between a rock and a hard place, unable to fully open their facilities until May 17 at the earliest, despite the industry’s high Covid-secure standards.

The all-important ‘four-step’ timeline outlined by the government promised “certainty, rather than uncertainty for business.” Yet details of economic support were not announced at the time. These have been promised for the Budget statement to be given by Chancellor, Rishi Sunak on March 3.

Furthermore, the dates for the commencement of each stage will be subject to further review before being finalised, Johnson warning that reopening phases will be “driven by data not dates” as the key strategy for the UK to emerge safely from lockdown.

Wellness destinations such as Champneys are on pause until hotels can reopen on May 17 at the earliest

The future certainly looks brighter for personal care businesses on the high street, and this is very welcome news for our professional colleagues in hair, beauty and nail businesses, but hotel, health club and resort and destination spas face further delays with additional compromises to their operations, workforces, supply chains and recovery programmes.

The Prime Minister also announced that the resumption of travel will be reviewed by his taskforce by April 12.

TIMELINE TO LIFT THE LOCKDOWN

STEP ONE

March 8

  • • Schools and FE colleges to be reopened.
  • • Outdoor sports for children allowed.
  • • University students who need specialist onsite facilities can return.
  • • General stay-at-home restrictions remain, but recreation or exercise outdoors will be allowed with household or one other person
  • • Care home visits allowed; funerals (30 people max.) and weddings (6 people max.) permitted.

 

March 29

  • • Return of ‘rule of six’ / two households allowed to meet outdoors (still no mixing indoors)
  • • Outdoor sport and leisure facilities can reopen and organised outdoor sport permitted
  • • People will no longer legally be required to stay at home but will be asked to minimise travel.

 

STEP TWO

No earlier than April 12

UK Government will announce, no later than seven days in advance, if the following businesses and facilities will be allowed to reopen:

  • Indoor gyms and leisure facilities for use individually or within household groups
  • • Non-essential retail
  • • Personal care premises and salons
  • • Outdoor hospitality venues
  • • Begin to reopen pubs and restaurants outdoors (no curfew)
  • • Zoos, theme parks, drive-in cinemas
  • • Libraries and community centres
  • • Self-contained accommodation (household only).

 

In addition, the following will apply:

  • • Rule of 6 or two households permitted to meet outdoors. No multiple household mixing indoors
  • • Domestic overnight stays will be allowed (household only)
  • • Weddings (max. 15 people)
  • • People will still be asked to minimise travel. No international holidays.

 

STEP THREE

No earlier than May 17

An announcement will be made concerning the reopening of the following businesses and facilities:

  • • Pubs and restaurants
  • • Hotels, hostels and B&Bs
  • • Sports stadia
  • • Indoor entertainment and attractions.

Larger public events will be piloted and the following rules will apply:

  • • 30 person limit to meet outdoors
  • • Rule of 6 or two households can meet indoors, subject to review
  • • Domestic overnight stays permitted
  • • Organised indoor adult sport allowed
  • • Life events with a maximum of 30 people in attendance
  • • Remaining outdoor entertainment will resume, including performances
  • • Remaining accommodation will open, including bed and breakfasts
  • • International travel will be permitted, subject to review.

 

STEP FOUR

No earlier than June 21

All legal limits will be removed on all aspects of public life, including everything up to and including nightclubs, theatre and larger events.

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