‘Continuing uncertainty’ as lockdown easing paused

Three-week delay could cost businesses “millions”

Scottish Parliament

THE Scottish hospitality industry faces “continuing uncertainty” following yesterday’s announcement from the first minister that the easing of coronavirus restrictions is likely to be paused for three weeks.

Much of the central belt – as well as Dundee – are currently in level two of restrictions, with the rest of the mainland in level one. Several of the Scottish islands are in level zero.

Responding to the announcement, Leon Thompson, executive director at UK Hospitality Scotland, said the decision to delay the further unlocking of the economy “adds to the continuing uncertainty for hospitality businesses”.

“Many are struggling to keep trading in the face of restrictions, whilst some of our members remain closed,” said Thompson.

Scottish Licensed Trade Association managing director, Colin Wilkinson, said the decision will cost businesses “millions of pounds”.

“Our pubs and bars have already invested millions to provide a safe environment as we all learn to live with this virus and we need to be able to open without restrictions as soon as we can,” said Wilkinson.
“Currently, we can only operate at around 30% of our capacity, but with increased staff costs to provide table service and fewer tables because of social distancing rules, most business continue to operate at a loss, racking up further debt every time they open the doors.

“We understand the need for caution but the Scottish Government must also understand that this delay will cost an already beleaguered industry millions of pounds and puts in jeopardy the future survival of many of the pubs, bars, restaurants, hotels and late-night bars that form part of Scotland’s social fibre.”

And Stephen Montgomery, spokesman for the Scottish Hospitality Group, called on the Scottish Government to base its decisions on hospital admissions rather than case numbers.

“We don’t shut down society and the economy every winter because of the flu,” said Montgomery.

“There’s got to be a balance.”