In the months to come there will be hot debate as to when exactly the country tipped into full and formal COVID-19 awareness. This is an essential marker because any rent review PRIOR to that date will not be able to factor into the calculations the severe market downturn that swiftly followed. Even one day, either way, could make all the difference. After the due date, full allowance can and should be made to forward predict the market and it’s direct effect on business solvency and profitability. The market itself will for sure level out as an inevitability but right now (April 2020) it is in the lap of the Gods.
The formal announcement of ‘Lockdown’ by the Prime Minister was in an unprecedented broadcast to the Nation was on Monday 23rd March. On that day the police were given powers to fine citizens if they left their homes for any reason that was not deemed ‘essential’.A full list of what was considered as essential was issued and had to be followed. The mantra was “stay home, stay safe”. But there is a slightly earlier date which could qualify to the hospitality and leisure industry, namely Tuesday 17th March when the Prime Minister advised us all not to go into pubs and restaurants. There was no outright prohibition so this earlier date is not quite as powerful.
Technically there is one last and in its own way, just as important a date being Thursday 19th March. That was the day when the Debt Management Office of the Bank of England confirmed the ‘hit’ of COVID-19 by launching its £200 billion quantitative easing programme. In the few days prior the Gilts Market had effectively frozen after the sale of £225 billion of debts which the Government needed to plan to keep businesses afloat. Yes, all very complex but if the Debt Management Office had not stepped in the basic financial markets would have ceased to function. There would have been no easy Government bailout to business.
So take your pick. Probably the easiest and most recognisable is Monday 23rd March. We are going to adopt that date as the cross over point into the formal realisation of COVID-19 had a clear and identifiable effect in the UK business market and especially the hospitality industry.
A date to mark and remember.