We have been asked regularly since the beginning of the pandemic for advice on how to interpret guidance and regulation relating to serviced apartments and other guest accommodation.
Not as easy as it may seem!
We have worked through the latest UK Government rulings which changed earlier this week, and hope the guidance below will help. We have focused on opening, being safe, and financial support. We have attempted to bring together the rules around who can open and when, who among the public can travel and why, and how to keep everyone safe when and where travel is permitted. Hopefully some of this may help when operators are faced by questions from guests looking to book or challenging rules such as the wearing of face masks or concerns around safety.
There are a few oficial links that are out-of-date, for instance they still relate to the old Tier systems and to Christmas, but there is basic guidance in those links which is probably worth repeating.
Please forgive us if we are relating things which are old-hat now, or seem obvious. We will continue to add to this as things change, so keep checking back. Also, please contact us if you spot errors, omissions or need advice on something specific – we wil do what we can to find the answers! So here goes…
Current advice on opening, applying to serviced apartments:
Holiday accommodation must close. Hotels, hostels and other holiday accommodation including (bed and breakfast accommodation, holiday apartments, homes, cottages or bungalows, campsites, caravan parks or boarding houses, canal boats or any other vessels) must only provide accommodation for a person who:
- is unable to return to their main residence
- uses it as their main residence
- needs it while moving house
- needs it to attend a funeral, linked commemorative event or following a bereavement of a close family member or friend
- is isolating themselves from others as required by law
- is an elite athlete (or their coach or parent) and needs it for training or competition
- needs it for work purposes, or to provide voluntary or charitable service
- is homeless
- was staying there for when England entered lockdown
- needs it to attend education or training
- needs it to visit a person who is dying
- needs it to care for a vulnerable person or seek respite from doing so
- needs it to attend a medical appointment or treatment
- needs it as a parent for the purposes of access to a child where the child does not live in the same household as their parents or one of their parents
They can also open:
- to enable voting, including in an overseas election
- to operate blood donation sessions and food banks
- as a women’s refuge or a vulnerable person’s refuge
- for any purpose requested by the Secretary of State, or a local authority
Businesses and services that are permitted to continue in law must close or not take place within accommodation settings. For example, a wake cannot be held at a hotel.
People are only allowed to stay away from home, including in guest accommodation, if they have a reasonable excuse, such as:
- where it is essential to stay away from home for work purposes
- if they need accommodation while moving house
- if they are self-isolating as required by law
- if they are visiting their support bubble
- if they are unable to return to their main residence because of flood, fire, etc
- if they need accommodation to attend a funeral or related commemorative event
- if they are a child requiring accommodation for school or care
- if they are homeless, seeking asylum, are a vulnerable person seeking refuge, or if escaping harm (including domestic abuse)
- if they are an elite athlete or their support staff, or a parent if the athlete is under 18 and it is necessary to be outside of the home for training or competition
Guest accommodation providers such as hotels, B&Bs and caravan parks may remain open for the specific reasons set out in law, including where guests are unable to return to their main residence, use that guest accommodation as their main residence, need accommodation while moving house, are self-isolating as required by law, or would otherwise be made homeless as a result of the accommodation closing. A full list of reasons can be found in the guidance on closing certain businesses and venues in England.
Accommodation providers are also encouraged to work cooperatively with local authorities to provide accommodation to vulnerable groups, including the homeless.
Fuller considerations for hotel operators are set out by UKHospitality guidance (slightly out-of-date in places).
Rules for acocommodation staying open (operators may already do all this):
- You must ask your customers to wear face coverings in any indoor space or where required to do so by law, although some exemptions apply.
- Complete a COVID-19 risk assessment and share it with all your staff.
- Clean more often and provide PPE and sanitiser where necessary
- Make sure everyone is social distancing – put up signs or introduce one way systems.
- Increase ventilation
- Take part in NHS Test and Trace – keep a record of all customers for 21 days. This will be enforced in law.
- Turn people with coronavirus symptoms away!
- Let customers know that they can only visit in groups as permitted by law, and put up signs to remind customers not to interact outside their group.
- Encourage contactless payments
- Minimise contact between staff and guests
- Restaurants and bars within accommodation should remain closed although food and/or drink, including alcohol, can be provided through room service as long as it is ordered by phone or online.
- Communal spaces such as lounges or lobbies may remain open to guests, but no food or drink should be served in these spaces.
- People must be encouraged not to gather and social distancing should be observed
- Guests must act in line with government regulations and guidance, comply with the ‘stay at home’ requirements while staying, and should return home as soon as practical
- International visitors may continue to enter the country subject to the existing Travel Corridor rules, but must also adhere to all national lockdown regulations and guidance.
Managing COVID-19 in the workplace
Face coverings must be worn by retail, leisure and hospitality staff working in any indoor area that is open to the public, and where they’re likely to come into contact with a member of the public. This includes public areas of hotels and serviced apartments, bars and restaurants.
If businesses have taken steps in line with Health and Safety Executive guidance for COVID-19 secure workplaces to create a physical barrier between workers and members of the public, staff behind the barrier will not be required to wear a face covering.
Government financial support for business:
- The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has been extended until 30 April 2021.
- Claims for furlough days in December 2020 must be made by 14 January 2021.
- You can no longer submit claims for claim periods ending on or before 31 October 2020.
The following schemes have been extended until the end of March:
- Bounce Back Loan Scheme
- Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS)
- Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS)
- VAT on hospitality and tourism cut from 20% to 5%
- business rates holidays for eligible businesses across the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors
- Future Fund loans of £125,000-£5 million are open until the end of January 2021
- The Trade Credit Reinsurance Scheme has been extended to June 2021.
- Businesses forced to close can claim grants of up to £3,000 per month – in England via their local authority, depending on rateable value.
- Businesses that remain open but impacted by local restrictions can claim up to £2,100 a month
- Also announced on 5 January all businesses in England forced to close can claim a one-off grant of up to £9,000 depending on their rateable value.