22 May 2020
Covid-19 Q&A at the Barn Theatre

MP Live session at the Barn Theatre

Hospitality, Tourism and Leisure

22 May 2020


Thank you for joining me today for my 10th live session recorded from the Barn Theatre in Cirencester. I hope you are finding these discussions informative and thank you for everyone who is sending in questions and comments.

The Covid-19 outbreak has significantly affected businesses across the country, to control the spread many have had to close, furlough staff, resulting in cash revenues drying up.

Here in the Cotswolds the fastest growing sector of the economy is tourism, employing 10% of the labour force, equalling 20,000 jobs. It is a sector that is worth £1 billion a year to the Cotswolds economy, with 38 million visits made to the area each year.

As such a major source of income and employment for this area, I have naturally been contacted by a high number of businesses in the hospitality, tourism, and leisure industry. These businesses are concerned about the long-term impact the lock-down period will have, as the tourism season begins many remain will shut. 

The longer they are closed, the less likely it is for them to reopen once we are back to a full recovery.

In addition to this, while some businesses are keen to start operating, even under social distancing measures, others do not think they will be able to open with these guidance’s in place.

VisitBritain has calculated the Covid-19’s impact on tourism for the country based on international travel resuming in August, will lead to a 54% drop in visits, and 55% reduction in spend. The economic cost caused by the loss of domestic tourism, worth £88 billion annually to the economy, could be greater.

I will be discussing the challenges faced in the hospitality, tourism, and leisure industry in more detail with a panel of local experts from the sector. Many thanks for joining me:

Vanessa Berridge - County organiser for the National Garden scheme.

Justin Waterage - MD Steppes Travel

Julia Sibun - Julia Sibun Events

Steve Collins - Chairman of Visit Gloucestershire and Chairman of the Visitor Economy and Tourism Group of GFirst

(And special guest) Dominic Cavendish - Arts Correspondent for The Daily Telegraph

Before we start our conversation, I will give a quick update on this weeks announcements from Westminster.


Testing and tracing

Everyone in the UK with coronavirus symptoms can now get a test, so anyone experiencing new symptoms of a continuous cough; high temperature; and now also a loss of or change in your normal sense of smell or taste.






The Government is recruiting 24,000 trackers to help in our contact-tracing programme. By 1 June, we will have 25,000 trackers, capable of tracking the contacts of 10,000 new cases a day. By way of comparison, on 19 May, there were 2,472 tests with positive results.

In Gloucestershire – The Mobile Testing Unit (MTU) in Gloucester will be staying at the Oxstalls Tennis Centre, until Tuesday 26 May. This is delivered by the military under the Department for Health and Social Care Pillar 2 scheme.

Essential workers are being prioritised for testing, while allowing as many tests as possible for the wider population.

Essential workers and members of their household who have symptoms should continue to register for a test through the self referral and employer portals on https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-getting-tested


Care Homes

The government has announced a new care homes support package backed by a £600 million adult social care infection control fund. This has been introduced to tackle the spread of COVID-19 in care homes.

The government has written to councils and care providers outlining the details of the support package and has provided additional advice and resources to help stop the spread of infection.




NHS support

The Government have extended the bereavement scheme to NHS support staff and social care workers. The scheme means families and dependents of staff who have died as a result of contracting coronavirus are offered indefinite leave to remain, free of charge.





Economic Support

Cotswolds District Council Discretionary Business Rates scheme – Smaller businesses not previously eligible for government funding during the lock down may be eligible for a grant of up to £10,000 Government funded Local Authority Discretionary Business Grant Fund.

£1.67m will be available, with guidance from Government on the types of businesses that the fund is aimed at, specifically those with on-going property costs and small business who don’t pay their own rates, such as market traders (lockups), B&Bs who pay council tax, and charities.

The amount available is discretionary and will likely go very quickly, so I urge any business likely to qualify to apply as soon as the application process opens on the1st June, closing 14 days later, assessed on 15th June with payments made the following week.

The Government has extended the maximum loan size available through the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme from £50 million to £200 million. Borrowers under this scheme will be able to borrow up to 25 per cent of turnover, up to a maximum of £200 million.




The Government has launched the Future Fund aimed at supporting UK-based companies who can now apply for a convertible loan of between £125,000 and £5 million, to support continued growth and innovation. These convertible loans may be a suitable option for businesses that typically rely on equity investment and are unable to access other government business support programmes because they are either pre-revenue or pre-profit.


Further information can be found here: 



Find out how to apply here:






The Government hopes to reopen schools for some primary pupils by 1 June, at the earliest. If the science suggests it is safe to do so, the Government hopes to begin to get primary pupils back into schools, in stages, beginning with Reception, Year 1 and Year 6. A degree of discretion will be left to our Head-teachers on how they can open to suit the needs of their schools.