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Food critic Jay Rayner’s recent one-man mission to show solidarity

Coronavirus Highlights Business Interruption is a Serious Risk

Mar 2020

Food critic Jay Rayner’s recent one-man mission to show solidarity with Chinese restaurant owners across the UK has underlined just how devastating the coronavirus epidemic has been for those Chinese people operating hospitality-sector businesses.[1]

The Observer journalist created a bold public statement when purposely dining at the Four Seasons restaurant in London’s Chinatown – an eatery left practically empty due to what the writer has termed “health-linked racial discrimination.”  He noted that normally bustling Gerrard Street was “sparsely populated”.

Meanwhile, in Liverpool, the city’s oldest Chinese restaurant – Yuet Ben, established in 1968 – was left empty on a Saturday night[2] and Jinli restaurant chain, which has branches in Uxbridge, Birmingham and London said its flagship restaurant alone lost an estimated £15,000 in takings over the course of one weekend.[3]

Irrational fears over coronavirus have seen some Chinese restaurants suffering a drop-off in custom that could lead to financial issues, should the situation continue in the long-term. Coronavirus has proved that no business can know what is around the corner and that anticipation of future possible issues may be the key to business survival.

Business interruption insurance is one type of cover that could potentially protect a business suffering such a hit in business because of public fears. Whether or not coronavirus is covered by such policies is a matter for the small print.  Business interruption policies often require there to be physical damage to a property or some other similar impact before they will consider a claim.  However, more flexible business interruption policies do exist and do not require such physical impacts. 

Hospitality is a sector set to be significantly hit by coronavirus scares and measures taken, in particular, by the Chinese government.  Chinese citizens have been banned from travelling[4], leading to some UK hotels, companies and even tourism destinations, suffering a dramatic drop in business, if they normally serve the Chinese inbound traveller.

Not every type of business interruption is so dramatic or high-profile but such incidents do demonstrate the need for businesses to at least consider all those unexpected impacts that could adversely affect their trade.  It does not take much for public nervousness about a location, type of business or feature to turn into full-scale fear, with events such as Christmas markets being a good example, in the wake of previous terror attacks on this type of seasonal event.

If you are a business recognising that your trade could reduce due to a situation beyond your control, you may wish to discuss your protection options with an informed insurance broker. To find a broker who can help you in this regard, please use our ‘Find a Local Broker’ tool. 

Whilst you cannot insure against a certain type of incident after it has happened, you may be able to put insurances in place that will protect your enterprise should other negative impacts and situations occur in the future.