15 October 2020

Coronavirus Updates

The Federation has been working across many strands to assist members with the Coronavirus situation. This has included producing a Toolkit of advice, lobbying for business relief and support and engaging with marketing agencies to prepare for a resumption of normal business. 

Please read on for more information.

See this page for up to date guidelines: 

Further Updates – additional updates will only be issued to Federation Members through the normal Ezine and other channels. Please contact us if you need assistance with any matters. 

21st September – Additional Restrictions – the Executive has advised that there will be some additional measures for the hotel & hospitality sector that will come into effect this week


18th September – Pub Re-opening and more – the Executive has not published full guidance yet but we have summarised the latest rules for hotels: 


25th August – Positive Test Results for Staff or Customers – see the following link for advice: 


19th August – STR Hotel Performance released for July showing the impact of the COVID19 pandemic 


11th July – Industry Update – Eat out to help out scheme. Registration for this goes live on Monday 13th July 2020.


10th July – Detailed guidance on wedding celebrations – The Executive has published detailed guidance for venues that wish to hold wedding celebrations. See the following link: https://www.nihf.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/guidance-marriages-civil-partnerships-other-celebratory-events.pdf

9th July – Summary of new support – 


8th July – Chancellor Outlines A Plan for Jobs including temporary VAT reduction to 5% on food, accommodation & non-alcoholic drinks. Additional furlough payments and funding for new recruits. https://www.nihf.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/new_417065__chancellors_statement_872020_-_aplanforjobsprint.pdf

23rd June – Guidelines Published and Flexible Furlough – The final guideline documents for re-opening have been published by the Executive. You can find these in the link that follows. We also have a separate page that has more detailed SOPs and advice for the industry. https://covid19.tourismni.com/support-centre/business-support-advice/practical-guidance-for-working-safely-during-covid-19/

We have uploaded a template letter for flexible furlough. This is a complex matter and needs more consideration than the original furlough scheme. Please download this letter and amend as required. 


16th June – Updated re-opening advice for hotels – The Federation has published a short summary of the latest advice on re-opening. See next link for details. It is hopeful that full guidance on re-opening requirements will be published shortly. https://www.nihf.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/new_115544__hotels_re-opening_update.pdf

15th June – Hotels allowed to re-open from 3rd July – Minister Dodd announced has announced a revised hotel opening date of 3rd July. Hotel restaurants and bars will be allowed to trade with the purpose of selling food and alcohol on a table based service. Full details here https://www.economy-ni.gov.uk/news/economy-minister-welcomes-dates-agreed-re-opening-tourism-and-hospitality

9th June 2020 – STR Webinar and re-opening woes – The Federation continues dialogue with the Executive about the re-opening date. With the Republic of Ireland now moving earlier, there is pressure for Northern Ireland hotels to follow suit.

STR and NIHF are teaming up to hold a webinar on Northern Ireland Hotel Performance on Thursday 18th June. This free webinar will look at the hotel landscape and make some attempt at forecasting what will happen next. Follow this link to register (it’s free) and you’ll be reminded when the webinar is taking place. https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/3668644098765124619 

3rd June 2020 – Hotel Re-Opening Date – The Executive has indicated that hotels may plan to re-open on 20th July, subject to no changes between now and then. There are no exact details on what will be allowed yet – we expect these in the next few weeks – and this date may yet change (either forward to back) but it is something to aim for. https://www.economy-ni.gov.uk/news/economy-minister-announces-re-opening-plan-hotels-and-other-tourist-accommodation

27th May 2020 – Re-opening Plan (updated) – The Federation has uploaded a draft re-opening plan (see below) in MS Word and PDF. This is a work in progress but you may wish to download and amend to your own needs as required. Once we get a better idea on a re-opening date, this plan should assist in preparing to open. https://www.nihf.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/new_5933153__nihf_hotel_re-opening_plan_-_27_may_2020.docx


12th May 2020 – Pathway to Recovery, Furlough Scheme extended – The Chancellor has announced that the furlough scheme will be extended to the end of October. There will be no changes until the end of July. After that, more flexibility will be introduced and employers may be asked to contribute to the cost. More details soon.

The NI Executive has shared the document for recovery. No specific mention of hotels. https://www.executiveoffice-ni.gov.uk/sites/default/files/publications/execoffice/execuitveour-approach-to-decision-making.pdf 

11th May 2020 – 12 Point Plan for Recovery – The Federation has joined with BDO and Hospitality Ulster to launch a Hospitality Sector Road to Recovery Report, containing a 12 Point Plan showing the industry’s desire to reopen and rebuild the sector when the time is right. You can view this report below or by clicking here

4th May 2020 – Reopening Guides and more – ASM has helped us produced a guide to things to consider when reopening. You can find it here.

The Republic of Ireland has announced a reopening plan, which is also attached here. This is useful in seeing how things might reopen but may not be indicative of how the UK Government will approach the matter. It has hotels opening in Phase 4 (roughly indicated as 20th July).

The Federation will be part of the Tourism Recovery Taskforce Steering Group as announced by Minister Dodds. This will look at a range of issues that need to be addressed to restart the tourism industry and protect jobs and businesses.

Tourism NI has announced a series of webinars for the industry. You can find them here: https://covid19.tourismni.com/support-centre/webinars/ 

20th April 2020 – Job Retention Scheme now live – There are two links below. The first is the handbook for the Job Retention Scheme, including examples of calculations and everything you need to make a claim. https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/880099/Coronavirus_Job_Retention_Scheme_step_by_step_guide_for_employers.pdf 

The second link is the actual claim form. https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-for-wages-through-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme 

15th April 2020 – Update to furlough scheme & £25,000 grant list – There was a slight update to the furlough scheme today (see link below), changing the qualification date to 19th March from the previous date of 28th February. This may be applicable to new employees as you can now include them in the furlough scheme (but only if you submitted a Real Time Information submission to HMRC notifying them of the employee starting before 19th March). https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-for-wage-costs-through-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme 

Hospitality businesses with a rates NAV of £51,000 or less may be eligible for a grant of £25,000. We have more information on this in a separate news page here: https://www.nihf.co.uk/25000-grant-list/

An additional £40m fund has been announced but no details have been provided on how this will be distributed. The Federation is continuing to press for 100% Rates Relief for 2020-21 and for businesses with NAVs over £51,000 to be included in the grant scheme. 

10th April 2020 – Webinar and Q&As – ASM Chartered Accountants have published an updated list of questions and answers in relation to the Job Retention Scheme – you can download it at the bottom of this page.

HMRC is also emailing all PAYE operators with information on what they will need to claim. The online portal is expected to launch soon. They have also published a webinar on YouTube that might be of use to you. See the link below: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hYUTorQmkCI 

6th April 2020 – Additional Furlough Advice – Further details of the Furlough scheme have been published and analysed by our solicitors, O’Reilly Stewart. You can view details of these updates in the document at the bottom of this page.

3rd April 2020 – FAQs on Job Retention Scheme – Although further details were published on the Job Retention Scheme (see 26th March below), many questions remain. The House of Commons Library has now published a detailed list of questions and answers related to the scheme. These are well worth a read here. Points to note include:

Q11. Can workers work for other employers while on furlough? A. Yes.

Q17. Do employers have an automatic right to furlough workers? A. No. You need to address this through correct methods.

Q28. Do furloughed workers have to paid the National Minimum Wage? A. No.

Please read the full PDF for details on sick leave, holidays, wage calculations, directors and more. https://commonslibrary.parliament.uk/research-briefings/cbp-8880/?utm_source=ActiveCampaign&utm_medium=email&utm_content 

1st April 2020 – National Minimum Wage

The National Minimum Wage and National Living Wage increase today. It is important to note that any staff that are continuing to work must be paid the new rates. But, furloughed staff do not need to be paid at the increased rate. You should continue to pay furloughed staff at least 80% of their previous salary (capped at £2500 per month) based on the same period a year ago or the average of the 2019-20 PAYE year, whichever is higher. New rates here.

26th March 2020 – Updates on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

The Government has released further information on who is eligible for the scheme. The main point to note is that employees must be in the scheme for at least 3 weeks. That means they can’t come in and out frequently as the business might require. 

Details on claiming have now been made available, although the online portal is not up and running yet. Employees are liable for normal tax and NIC payments but it would appear that employers will be reimbursed for Employer National Insurance contributions and minimum pension contributions. https://www.gov.uk/guidance/check-if-you-could-be-covered-by-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme


Older Updates Below

Further updated information for accommodation providers is now available here. This includes advice of serving on food in hotels.

Hotels must close

Following the Prime Minister’s announcement at 8.30 tonight, the full text of guidance has been released (linked here). It indicates that all hotels should close unless they are housing key workers. A list of key workers can be found here. The guidance is that these measures are effective immediately.

More Furlough Templates

In consultation with our legal advisors, O’Reilly Stewart Solicitors, we have attached two new templates for Furloughing employees. Please amend accordingly.

Notice of Furlough & Closing Advice

A closing advice sheet has now been added.

Coronavirus Support

See attachment (Summary of Support Available) at bottom of page with a summary of support available to date.

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

More details on the HMRC support package have been published. You can access it here. The summary is as follows:

  • You will need to: designate affected employees as ‘furloughed workers,’ and notify your employees of this change – changing the status of employees remains subject to existing employment law and, depending on the employment contract, may be subject to negotiation
  • Submit information to HMRC about the employees that have been furloughed and their earnings through a new online portal (HMRC will set out further details on the information required).
  • HMRC will reimburse 80% of furloughed workers wage costs, up to a cap of £2,500 per month. HMRC are working urgently to set up a system for reimbursement. Existing systems are not set up to facilitate payments to employers.

Staff support and bars closing

The Chancellor has just announced a major package of support for employees. He has committed to cover salaries for all employees up to 80% of salary up to £2500 per employee per month. More details on this soon – it will be administered by HMRC.

All bars, restaurants and gyms should close from tonight (Friday 20th). No Mother’s Day dining or weddings.

Older updates have been archived to focus on latest advice.


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