TRADE organisation the Scottish Hospitality Group has called on the Scottish Government to “tweak” its levels system in order to allow later opening in levels two and three so that businesses can make enough money to cover fixed costs and furlough contributions.
The group has suggested changing the rules in level two and three areas to allow premises to remain open until 10pm. Currently premises are required to close their indoor spaces at 8pm in level two and 6pm in level three (both indoors and outdoors).
Those extra hours trading, said the group, could well be the difference for many businesses between surviving into next year or being forced to close permanently.
Nic Wood, owner of Signature Pub Group and member of the SHG, said: “The more viable we can be then the less of a burden we will be on the country and we will still provide safe places for people to socialise. Were it not for furlough, 75,000 people in the central belt would have lost their jobs this week. But the businesses that employ these people still need support to cover the furlough contribution and fixed costs.
“The Scottish Government must sit up and listen to what industry is saying to them or the majority of hospitality businesses, particularly the small, independent operators without deep pockets, will not be here past Christmas. Just tweaking the [regulations] slightly will save thousands of jobs and save the taxpayer millions while still giving the public a safe place to meet friends and family.”
The SHG has said that, on average, there is a “funding gap” of more than £5000 a week per premises between running costs and the support from Scottish Government grants.