Scottish Government admits no sector-specific evidence for hospitality shutdown

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

Scottish Government 'admits no sector-specific evidence' for hospitality shutdown says Scottish Hospitality Group

Related tags: Scottish Hospitality Group, Scottish government, lockdown

The Scottish Government has admitted in a freedom of information (FOI) response that it has not produced or sourced any specific evidence to support the restrictions on Scotland’s hospitality sector.

The FOI request was submitted by the Scottish Hospitality Group (SHG) back in November and initially received no response despite the Government having a 20 working day response period.

After three and half months of pursuing its enquiry, SHG has now received a reply saying: “Neither the Scottish Government, the Chief Medical Officer's Advisory Group nor SAGE have produced evidence papers on a sectoral basis.

"Instead we have used scientific evidence on transmission coupled with the social and economic benefits of particular sectors which Ministers have used to make decisions.”  

In its first refusal to provide information, which came in January - well after the 20-day deadline for responding - the Government claimed there were potentially 3,000 documents in scope.

This was reduced to 2,000 after SHG further restricted the scope of its request.

Eventually, late last month, the Government responded with a single document release that the SHG says has no significance to the request. 

“After nearly four months we have finally secured the truth that the government has no specific evidence to justify the restrictions placed on our industry," says Stephen Montgomery, SHG spokesperson.

It’s also deeply disappointing to see no thought given to the knock-on effects of closing hospitality, such as driving people towards house parties, which we know has been a major issue. 

“Incredibly, the Government is asking us to believe that there was no email correspondence with the office of the National Clinical Director about the evidence base for restrictions on hospitality, considered by them to be one of the main transmission vectors.” 

The SHG adds that it is appealing a refusal to provide some information on the grounds that is protected by personal data exemptions, asking instead for such information to be redacted. 

“We completely understand that lockdown measures were necessary and remain so, but there’s always been the chance to work a lot smarter by partnering with the industry to have systems in place that protect both public health and people’s jobs," continues Montgomery. 

“We have repeatedly offered the Government different solutions at their request and proactively ourselves. Now that we’re approaching an easing of restrictions, there’s still time for the Government to listen to businesses and make sensible changes to the levels system to give us a viable trading chance.

"These levels must not leave us disadvantaged to our colleagues in England. If we don't get this right now, and allowed to open soon, we will be facing a fourth and fifth winter.”  

Related topics: Business & Legislation

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