Coronavirus (Covid 19) Guidance for ITC Members
Many ITC Members have been calling with concerns about the Coronavirus. Obviously the situation is a rapidly changing one so we suggest keeping an eye on the websites below for updates and the government’s plan. This is the current position as we understand it:
• At present in the UK there is no official government advice not to travel to or from the UK but there is specific advice in relation to certain countries and areas (regularly updated in this website)
• The government is encouraging business as usual and there has been no general advice to close events. A few institutions (the Guildhall, a few schools and a book festival to date) have taken particular decisions to close because of specific cases of infection.
• Symptoms of the virus are high fever, dry cough and flu-like symptoms. If you experience these symptoms the NHS advise that you do not visit a GP or hospital but call NHS 111 for advice. If you feel ill or have reason to believe that you have come into contact with the virus you should stay at home and self-isolate. The incubation period for the virus is thought to be 14 days.
Protecting staff, volunteers & visitors
• Provide clear up-to-date advice and information (Public Health England has regular updates)
• Provide handwashing facilities, printable instructions
• If staff are ill or need to self-isolate due to contact with the virus they should stay at home and (where possible) receive sick pay. Where staff are on Statutory Sick Pay this should be paid from day one of their illness, not just from the fourth day, this is new legislation and more detail of how it will work is on the gov.uk website. ACAS have provided some excellent guidelines for employers and employees.
• Consider enabling staff to work from home where possible. If employees are being sent home as a precaution they should remain on full pay.
• NCVO have also provided some very useful comprehensive guidelines.
Contracts and Cancellations
Many of you have been asking about cancellation of events/shows/tours. We would strongly recommend that you call us to discuss your specific situation as the advice will vary depending on the circumstances. For example: in China public buildings including theatres have been forced by their Government to close. Companies booked to perform in venues in China have had their tours cancelled. Because the cancellation was beyond the control of the venue the venue has been able to rely on frustration of contract and the Force majeure clause in their contract (no fault cancellation). Cancellation will not be necessary or beyond the control of the cancelling party in all cases though. Each case will need to be considered on its particular facts.
When negotiating future contracts, it is worth looking carefully at cancellation and Force Majeure clauses and attempting to negotiate terms which more equally share risk.
Protecting your business
Develop a contingency plan: Assess the level of disruption that might be caused, this could vary from what happens if key performers or company members are taken ill to what to do about proposed or planned tours to countries where the virus is already a problem. Make sure you communicate the plan across your team.
Think about insurance: Review your policy documents and speak to your brokers about both risks and options that may be available. Some key points to check on are -
• Risks: Is it covered? A recent government declaration that the virus is a “notifiable disease” gives it a formal classification required by many insurance policies. Nonetheless, be prepared for the argument that a policy excludes it as it is now a “pre-existing circumstance”.
• Exclusion: Even if your policy does include notifiable disease as a risk, check to see that it does not fall into any of the exclusions (for example, a mutant variation of atypical pneumonia or SARS) and that you are still covered.
• Extension to cover: Extending your cover to include consequential business interruption cover for notifiable diseases may be a possibility, however, the premium is likely to be expensive.
As an ITC member you can call us to discuss your concerns on 020740431727. It is helpful for us to get a broad picture of the impact on the sector too.
We will provide updates as the situation develops.