Speaking in the Scottish Parliament today (June 10), Ewing said the Scottish Government hopes to confirm the reopening of tourism and hospitality venues when it reviews lockdown measures on 9 July, with a view to venues reopening the following week.
“Businesses must now use this time to satisfy the necessary regulations and adapt to the new way of living,” he said.
Ewing acknowledged the importance of providing an indicative reopening date for the sector after it had been 'devastated' by the Coronavirus crisis. However, he also stressed that the 15 July date is still provisional, and will rely on public health advice and the status of the pandemic in Scotland at that time.
During his address, the minister also said that the Scottish Government had provided £2.3 billion of support for the industry, adding that, going forward, the centralised UK Government in Westminster must lead the recovery plan.
Responding to the announcement, trade body UKHospitality says it welcomes the clarity around reopening and acknowledgement of the support needed to help Scottish hospitality and tourism businesses.
“It’s good to have some clarity from the Scottish Government and a real sense that we are moving towards the reopening of hospitality and tourism businesses," says Willie Macleod, UKHospitality executive director for Scotland.
"Recognising that there may be a need to change dates and timing in the interests of health and safety, it will take time, weeks in some cases, for businesses to get back in working order, communicate with customers, handle bookings, arrange staffing and order supplies, so this lead-time is very helpful.
"UKHospitality has developed detailed guidelines to assist businesses to reopen and looks forward to the publication of the Scottish Government’s own guidance on 18 June."
Macleod adds that businesses across both the hospitality and tourism sectors will require ongoing support to see them through to the 2021 season, and insists on the need for radical steps to be put in place to kick-start the tourism economy.
“Hospitality and tourism businesses in Scotland have been hammered very hard and trading will be tricky once they reopen. Social distancing measures will be in place and businesses will only be able to operate at a fraction of normal capacity.
“It’s therefore vital that we get as much support as possible. A positive and very visible campaign from the Scottish Government to encourage customers to get back out and support businesses is needed. We need it to make the case for supporting two vital pillars of the Scottish economy that have been hit seriously hard over the past few months."