The latest announcement from the UK Government on April 6th says that from April 12th ‘overnight stays away from home in England will be permitted and self-contained accommodation can also reopen, (for) members of the same household or support bubble’.

However, the long-standing guidance on reopening says that only ‘self-contained holiday accommodation in which all facilities (including for sleeping, catering, bathing, and indoor lobbies and corridors for entry and exit) … will reopen’.

James Foice, CEO of the Association of Serviced Apartment Providers (ASAP), says: “We have been calling for clarity for the last month from the DCMS on whether our Members and others in the professionally-run serviced apartment sector are therefore permitted to open.

“Some apartments are in blocks which share an entrance with other guests outside their own household: however, in every other way they are self-catering with full kitchens, laundry facilities and private bathrooms. The rules say that hotels, hostels, B&Bs and any other accommodation, including holiday lets or serviced accommodation within apartment buildings, that share any communal areas, will remain closed.”

Robert Alley, Chief Operating Officer at Roomzzz Aparthotels, says: “It’s very frustrating that unregulated self-catering short-term let cottages, caravan parks and sharing economy accommodation such as Airbnb can open from April 12th, while accredited, professionally-run apartments and Aparthotels have to wait further to May 17th – simply because we have corridors and lifts!”

Keith Freeman, Chief Operating Officer at Staycity Group, agrees. “As self-catering apartments with fully furnished kitchens and living areas, we feel the sector is amply geared up to deal with guest needs in a Covid-safe environment.

“Each apartment has its own entrance, and we have protocols set up so that our teams do not need to access apartments when guests are there. With our reception and food and beverage areas closed, we are similar to any other self-catering accommodation facilities which are allowed to operate.”

James Foice concludes: “What makes it harder to explain is that I understand hairdressers and beauty salons operating within hotels can open for customers next week, even if the hotel itself is still shut and customers are entering and leaving through public areas.

“Our Members and others in the sector are calling on us for clarification. But frankly we are as baffled as they are!”

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