UKHospitality Scotland, the Scottish Licensed Trade Association, Scottish Beer and Pub Association and Scottish Hospitality Group have written ahead of today's (27 October) scheduled debate on the Scottish Government’s strategic framework that will set the course of hospitality for the next six months.
It follows news last week that Scotland is to enter a five-level Coronavirus lockdown system from the beginning of next month.
While emphasising that hospitality in Scotland is not to blame for the spread of the virus, the trade bodies have sought clarification on a number of issues and made proposals designed to support a sector that has been devastated by the COVID crisis.
They include higher levels of restrictions requiring higher levels of support for businesses that must be at least in line with levels in England; urgent confirmation of how the Job Support Scheme (JSS) will work for Scottish businesses; an immediate review of anomalies regarding the serving of meals in cafes, but not pubs or restaurants, or hotels unable to serve alcohol to residents; and support for sub-sectors including music and entertainment venues, nightclubs and conference centres, that are unable to open.
The trade bodies add that the economic support made available in the form of grants will not be sufficient.
They say there must be information from the Scottish Government as soon as possible how it intends to use its share of the £700m funding allocated recently by the Chancellor to the devolved governments.
The letter also urges the Scottish Government to ensure it does not impose any restrictions longer than is necessary, with any measures regularly reviewed.
It says there needs to be a clear roadmap for how areas facing tighter restrictions can work towards exiting those restrictions, with comprehensive guidance for businesses, based on consultation, issued in advance of any new measures.
The sector has confirmed it is prepared to make additional concessions to assuage concerns of the MSPs and the Scottish Government.
In a joint statement, the trade bodies said: “No other sector has been as heavily disrupted as hospitality and the [Scottish Government's] planned framework looks set to provide further restrictions which may destroy businesses and wipe out jobs.
“Clearly the objective for everyone must be to contain the spread of the virus. It must, however, be done in a way which gives the incredibly valuable businesses in our sector the best possible chance of survival and a more equal shouldering of the burden at this time. If we are not careful, businesses will be closed for good and jobs permanently lost.
“We are now calling on the Scottish Government, and all MSPs, to acknowledge that our sector stands to lose the most if the framework is not absolutely right. They must take on board our points and ensure that any legislation, that is designed to keep communities safe and businesses intact, does not have the unintended consequence of delivering the final blow.”