What the 'Lockdown Exit Roadmap' Means for Your Franchise With One Month to Go

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Boris Johnson revealed the government’s lockdown exit roadmap on 22nd February, sparking both excitement and concern in business owners across the country. Now we’ve had a chance to digest the information, let’s take a look at some of the specifics of the plan. 

Since the UK began its efforts to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic in March2020, the government has introduced a number of measures in an effort to protect businesses and individuals. While most changes have garnered a mixed response, almost all have been met with some level of confusion. In fact, back in October, just one in 20 adults under the age of 30 said they completely understood the restrictions in England and Wales (The Telegraph). 

The government’s new lockdown exit roadmap comes with its own set of specific guidelines. You can find everything you need to know about the new government roadmap in our dedicated article. But here, we’re running through the rules and potential changes in more detail, taking a closer look at some of the implications and potential complications for specific sectors. 

Specific rules and complications in the lockdown exit roadmap

  • Gyms, fitness facilities and sports class organisers - Although many people might put these three types of organisations into the same category, their different business reopening dates stretch over seven weeks. While companies running outdoor sports classes and facilities can reopen on the 29th March, gyms must wait until the 12th April. And businesses hosting indoor adult group classes can’t get up and running until the 17th May. If you own a gym providing group sessions, you may be able to welcome customers in April but should hold off on running classes until May. 

  • Restaurants, pubs and cafes - Businesses serving food and drinks will be able to continue delivering takeaways without a specific licence. This automatic right was introduced at the start of the pandemic, but it has been extended and will last until March 2022. 

  • Hospitality and accommodation - There has been some disappointment in the hospitality sector, as the lockdown exit roadmap allows holiday lets, such as private cottages and apartments, to reopen on the 12th April. However, hotels can’t welcome guests until the 17th May, a month after non-essential retailers are allowed to open their doors.

We have invested significantly in making our premises as Covid-safe as possible; it is safer to stay in a hotel having a drink at a table, with dinner served, than it is visiting a shopping mall or a grocery store. It’s safer for people to socialise in Covid-secure hotels and restaurants rather than have parties in their flats, houses or gardens.
—Raphael Herzog, Chair of the Bristol Hoteliers Association (BHA)

  • Schools and higher education facilities - The reopening of schools marked the start of the lockdown exit roadmap on the 8th March. But the government hasn't yet given an indication of when universities and other higher education facilities and businesses will be able to get fully up and running again.

  • Workers leaving home - There are some specific rules when it comes to working outside of your home. Officially, you should stay inside if you can, but if you work in critical national infrastructure, construction or manufacturing, you can travel to your job. The same goes for workers in childcare, education, essential public services and essential retail, including supermarkets and pharmacies. You can also work inside someone else’s home if you need to; for instance, if you’re a nanny, cleaner, tradesperson or social care worker.

  • Covid passports - The concept of a ‘Covid passport’ has been widely discussed, and Boris Johnson has organised a review to consider the implementation of “Covid status certification” for domestic use. However, he has admitted they raise ethical and legal issues, and other officials have labelled the prospect “discriminatory” and “wrong”.

Businesses in the South West back the step-by-step approach to re-opening and an end to damaging stop-start restrictions. We now need to turn this roadmap into genuine economic momentum. Extending business support in parallel to restrictions will give firms a bridge to the other side. This is particularly needed for sectors who will have to wait for up to three months to re-open.
—Deborah Fraser, CBI South West Director

Potential exceptions and loopholes in the lockdown exit roadmap

There are certain exceptions and loopholes within the lockdown exit roadmap, so make sure you’re aware of them in order to avoid getting into hot water. 

  • Restaurants, pubs, cafes and hotels - On the 12th April, hospitality venues will be able to start serving people outside. Customers must order and consume their food and drinks while seated, but they won’t need to have a substantial meal with alcohol and there won’t be a curfew. However, to allow venues without gardens to benefit from reopening, the government will enable hospitality venues to create makeshift outdoor seating areas. Eateries will be able to serve customers in car parks and on pavements from 12th April until they can welcome them inside on 17th May (if the dates remain the same). 

  • Events and weddings - Some people with upcoming weddings have expressed their disappointment at the rules allowing official events to go ahead on the 17th May. According to the lockdown exit roadmap, businesses can organise large-scale indoor performances and sporting events either with a half-full audience or with under 1,000 people (whichever is lower). However, weddings will still be limited to 30 people in May - along with funerals, receptions and other commemorative events - until the government reviews the situation in June. To get around this, some brides- and grooms-to-be have suggested they’ll sell tickets to their wedding so they can invite more than 30 people.

More guidance on running a franchise unit during the Covid-19 pandemic

We’ve written lots of guides on how to sustain business growth during the pandemic. You can find them all in our catalogue of recent articles, or use the search box to find information on the topic. Why not start with our feature on why you should prepare for a profitable summer in 2021

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