The lease forfeiture and debt enforcement moratorium has been extended to 30 Sept. It includes a ban on commercial rent arrears recovery, statutory demands and winding up petitions.

A new Code of Practice to facilitate rent negotiations has also been released. The code encourages tenants to pay rent in full where they can but also acknowledges that landlords should provide support to those businesses unable to do so. The code has been developed with input from businesses leaders including UK Hospitality.

“The hospitality sector has seen its income almost totally wiped out by this crisis and therefore businesses simply cannot meet their rent obligations,” said UK Hospitality CEO Kate Nicholls.

“Although the majority of landlords have been pragmatic, a minority have aggressively pursued tenants that have been closed for months and no ability to pay.

“This code goes some way to bringing together landlords and tenants in the pursuit of a negotiated solution to allow hospitality businesses to move on and revert to the new normal, but this must be recognised as a first step that needs to be built on by all parties.

“Further time and support is needed to facilitate a recovery for the hospitality sector, that is at the heart of our social lives and communities. The moratorium should be extended until the end of the year to keep businesses alive and allow the code to support negotiations to find a solution.

“The reality is that we are now at a point where fiscal support is going to be needed in many cases. It is now the only option if we want to avoid widespread business failures. The Government must consider supporting hospitality businesses who cannot pay rent.”

The news comes as the industry grows increasingly impatient for the 4 July to be confirmed as the date on which it can reopen, and guidance around safety measures, crucially the two vs one metre debate.

An announcement confirming the reopening date is hoped for today (19 June). Earlier today speculation increased that social distancing measures may be relaxed after the government reduced the coronavirus level from 4 to 3.