In a letter to Fergus Ewing, the Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy and Tourism, which has been signed by a number of organisations including UKHospitality, the Association of Scotland’s Self Caterers, the British Amusement Catering Trade Association and the British Beer and Pub Association, Marc Crothall, chief executive of Scottish Tourism Alliance (STI) asks that the Scottish Government to implement a one metre rule.
“We would ask that the Scottish Government carefully evaluate and give every due consideration to agreeing to the one metre parameter for distancing, which is considered by the WHO to be a safe distance,” he writes.
In the letter, Crothall says that the current two metre policy would be disastrous for Scotland’s tourism businesses.
“The reality as I’m sure you know is that the majority believe that it will not be economically viable to do so at two metres and as a result would have to close until such time as there was a change to the distancing measures,” he says. “Many may not be able to hold out until then and the difference could mean many tens of thousands of jobs being saved or lost.”
He also cites the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) advice that people should stay one metre apart, a rule which he points out is followed in Spain, Italy, Austria, Finland, Sweden and Norway.
“In Germany, Poland and the Netherlands the distance is 1.5 metres, with only the UK, Switzerland and US staying two metres apart,” says Crothall.
Numerous hospitality businesses have already called for the two metre rule to be halved. A recent Hospitality Leaders Poll by MCA Insight/HIM of 400 founders or board level operators across restaurants, pubs and food to go, found that 40% of operators believe their businesses would be viable with a one-metre social distancing rule as opposed to two metres, with a further 36% saying it was a possibility.
Crothall's letter also calls for an opening date for the sector to help kick-start the tourism economy.
“With regards to a reopen date for our sector, I fully appreciate that your wish is to see businesses able to maximise the opportunity that the summer season brings and you would like to see activity for the sector in July.
“I also acknowledge that no hard and fast dates can be given for reopening. Our industry needs a clearer timescale to work towards, not just to give greater confidence to business owners but also to those across the UK and further afield that are considering their holiday options.”