Coronavirus Bulletin: Advice for food, travel and home improvement businesses

In the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, many of us feel a sense of confusion around everyday things we previously took for granted. Our travel and holiday plans have been disrupted; the way in which we buy our food has changed in any number of ways; and things like home repairs and housing have become a source of anxiety for many.

Businesses as well as consumers face a series of difficult questions. For example, what are a holiday operator’s responsibilities when it comes to offering refunds or compensation for cancelled bookings? What do pubs and restaurants need to be aware of when they look to diversify their businesses by offering food deliveries while their premises are closed? And what should a landlord do if a prospective tenant wants to view a property during the lockdown?

To answer some of these questions, and to provide accurate, up-to-date information to consumers and businesses during these unprecedented times, Business Companion – a free online portal created by the Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) – has released a series of resources themed around different areas of business and consumerism. At the moment these consist of travel, food and housing and home improvements. 

These Coronavirus Bulletins include an overview of the key aspects of consumer law relevant to the current situation, discussion of how it is affecting businesses and consumers across different sectors, with links to further reading resources including the latest information released by the Government.

As the situation changes, the Bulletins are being updated to take account of new developments in the rules and guidance around COVID-19.

Since the crisis began, there has been an unfortunate tendency for misinformation to circulate, particularly on social media. The Coronavirus Bulletins are part of a wider attempt to combat this by providing reliable information, written by experts and available for free, to everybody.

While there are still many questions that it is impossible to answer at the present time with regards to what the future may hold and the potential long-term effects of the COVID-19 lockdown, there are many practical steps that we can all follow to make sure we make the best of a difficult situation. This applies to businesses as much as the general public; now more than ever there is a need for businesses to be pragmatic and flexible in how they deal with their customers, and communication is vital to achieving this. 

This is particularly the case in the rented housing sector; many tenants will find their employment circumstances changing, potentially making it harder to keep up with the rent, while landlords equally are likely to experience unforeseen changes in their own circumstances. It is important that all parties keep each other informed of these changes, and landlords must be aware of the new legislation brought in specifically to protect tenants during the crisis.

It is clear that the coronavirus pandemic has resulted in real suffering, with many of us worried about the health, safety and livelihoods of ourselves and our loved ones. At times like this it is more important than ever to have access to reliable and relevant information to help us make sense of what is really going on.

View the Travel bulletin

View the Food bulletin

View the Housing and home improvements bulletin