Curfew will be “last straw for many businesses”

Trade groups warn of redundancies and insolvencies as a result of new measures


THE 10pm curfew for hospitality venues announced by the Scottish Government today (September 22) will “devastate” the sector and “be the last straw for many businesses”, say trade groups.

First minister Nicola Sturgeon announced that premises will be required to close at 10pm every night from this Friday (September 25). The measures, which mirror those announced for pubs, bars and restaurants in England, will be reviewed in three weeks.

Scottish Licensed Trade Association managing director, Colin Wilkinson, said the new rules “will be the final nail in the coffin” for many trade businesses.

“The recently introduced six person, two household rule knocked customer confidence and the announcement today will only dent it further,” said Wilkinson.

“The industry is struggling to survive and operators will question why further restrictions are being focused on our pubs, bars and restaurants.”

A spokesman for the Scottish Beer & Pub Association said the curfew will “devastate our sector during an already challenging environment for pubs”.

“Pubs were struggling to break even before today and these latest restrictions will push some to breaking point,” he said.

“Restricting key trading hours on top of fragile consumer confidence and the reduced capacity pubs already face in addition to the current ban on sound from televisions and background music they are already contending with will put hundreds more pubs and thousands more jobs at risk.”

The Scottish trade is now “staring into an abyss”, according to Stephen Montgomery of the Scottish Hospitality Group.

“With tighter restrictions even more will be plunged into the red and the consequences will range from redundancies as a minimum, to the closure of individual premises right through to insolvency,” he said.

Marc Crothall, chief executive of the Scottish Tourism Alliance, said the curfew “is likely to be the last straw for many businesses which were only just managing to break even”.

“The impact that this new rule will have on restaurants in particular in terms of restricting a second seating in the evening will result in a substantial loss of revenue, as indeed it will in other areas of hospitality,” said Crothall.

And UK Hospitality’s executive director for Scotland, Willie Macleod, said the new restrictions “are a further, potentially fatal, blow for many hospitality businesses” and called for further support for the industry from the UK and Scottish governments.

“The governments at Westminster and Holyrood must immediately announce an exhaustive package of financial support, otherwise our sector is facing ruin,” said Macleod. “Employment support must be extended. The furlough scheme is already winding down and it comes to a complete halt at the end of October. Unless it is extended for our sector, businesses are inevitably going to have to make staff redundant. We are looking at a steady stream of job losses for six months, otherwise.”