Scottish hospitality calls for end to restrictions

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

Scottish hospitality calls for end to restrictions

Related tags: Scotland, Coronavirus

Scottish hospitality representatives have called for the current Covid restrictions on businesses to be lifted by Monday 24 January at the latest.

UKHospitality Scotland says the sector needs to return to providing full service as quickly as possible, with businesses having lost more than £1bn due to the collapse of Christmas and Hogmanay trade caused by the impact of trading measures​ put in place by the Scottish Government in response to the Omicron Covid variant. 

Since late December licensed hospitality venues have been required to operate table service only; all indoor hospitality settings to ensure there is a one metre distance between groups of people who are attending together; and nightclubs have been forced to close. 

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said last week​ that she hoped the restrictions could be lifted from 24 January. However, nothing has been confirmed yet and businesses are hoping that an announcement today (18 January) will bring clarity.

“A lot hinges on what the First Minister says," says Leon Thompson, UKHospitality Scotland executive director.

"Our businesses need to know that the Scottish Government is supporting them as they attempt to begin recovery from the financial impact of two years of closure and restrictions."

As well as an end to the restrictions, UKHospitality Scotland is calling on the Scottish Government to begin to encourage a return to the workplace. Hospitality venues in city centres continue to struggle without the custom brought by city workers and their future survival depends on a clear signal from the Scottish Government about the reopening of offices.

"Those restrictions, coupled with the health messaging over Christmas and Hogmanay, were incredibly damaging for businesses already carrying unsustainable levels of debt, sorely depleted cash reserves and in need of a strong festive trading period," continues Thompson.

“Hospitality needs to know that it can begin trading fully, including nightclubs, so we’re calling on the Scottish Government to lift restrictions no later than 24 January. This will send a positive message that Scotland is open for business and help our businesses as they set out again on what we all hope will be the road towards recovery.”

There have also concerns that firms are still waiting to receive the financial support promised by the Scottish Government before Christmas.

"While that money will fall way short of compensating for their incredible losses, it can nevertheless help with immediate cash flow issues," adds Thompson.

"It is vital that the funds reach our businesses who need to pay wages and suppliers.”

Related topics: Business & Legislation

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