‘No justification’ for ongoing restrictions

Businesses left “in limbo” as social distancing and table service rules remain in place

pint pouring

HOSPITALITY trade groups have blasted the Scottish Government’s decision to keep trading restrictions in place until at least 24th January, saying there is “no justification” for the ongoing measures.

Since 27th December, hospitality businesses have been required to provide table service only and to ensure a distance of at least one metre between groups. Nightclubs have been required to close entirely or operate as bars.

Speaking in the parliament yesterday, first minister Nicola Sturgeon said that restrictions will begin to be eased, but in a “phased way”.

From Monday (17th January), crowds will be able to return to large outdoor events such as football and rugby matches. However, hospitality will have to wait until next week to hear if the physical distancing and table service rules will be dropped from 24th January.

Sturgeon also said the Scottish Government is considering the extension of its COVID certification scheme to wider hospitality settings.

Responding to the announcement Leon Thompson, executive director of UK Hospitality Scotland, said: “The Scottish Government has produced no evidence that limiting Scotland’s most important economic sector is leading to reduced rates of COVID infection. The opposite appears to be true as people simply socialise at home, away from well-run businesses and in confined spaces.

“There is no justification for these ongoing sanctions against our businesses.”

That was echoed by Scottish Licensed Trade Association managing director, Colin Wilkinson, who said the sector remains “in limbo” until it hears when restrictions will be lifted.

“That the licensed hospitality sector has to wait until next week to find out if existing restrictions will be lifted from 24th January is unacceptable as it leaves business in limbo,” said Wilkinson.

“Of course, we appreciate that the Scottish Government has to consider the health of the nation as well as the economy, but more clarity is required.
“Last week the first minister alluded to the Scottish Government’s new strategic framework on dealing with COVID, which will be published in the coming weeks. She said exactly the same today so our question is: when will this be published because we need answers now.”

And in a statement issued by the Night Time Industries Association Scotland the group called on the Scottish Government to “urgently release all remaining unallocated funding to compensate Scottish nightlife and hospitality businesses for the disproportionate restrictions currently in place, and commit to a full reopening without any further restrictions”.