Scotland’s key independent restaurant and pub businesses have joined forces to highlight the need for the Scottish Government to re-examine it’s two-metre rule for social distancing. They fear that if the rule is not brought down to one or below, two-thirds of all pub and restaurants may remain closed beyond 15th July, the provisional date that Tourism Minister Fergus Ewing MSP set earlier in the week for all tourism and hospitality businesses to officially re-open. Their push also comes at the same time as Scotland’s ‘R’ rate is revealed to be the best of any UK nation at 0.6-0.8.
The group, which includes includes Caledonian Heritable Ltd, DRG, Buzzworks, Montpeliers, Manorview, Signature Pubs, Lisini and Caledonia Inns, with a combined workforce in the region of 4,500, are asking the Scottish Government to fall in-line with the World Health Organisation’s guidance, which details a one metre rule for social distancing and adopt the “controlled environment” model which New Zealand used. It allowed, in its second phase, bars, restaurants and cafes, which were described as ‘controlled environments’ to adopt 1-meter social distancing, while still having 2-meter social distancing out with these areas.
As part of the guidance in New Zealand licensees are asked to keep a list of customers in a track and trace effort – so that the social distancing guidelines can be reduced.
Graeme Arnott, Director of Caledonian Heritable, one of the biggest independent pub and restaurant operators in the country, said, ““If labelling the licensed trade as ‘controlled environments’ were included in the upcoming government guidelines for the industry – this would give the responsibility back to business owners to ensure staff and customer safety and allow them to track and trace customers through a number of different methods.”
“Whilst Mr Ewing has given the industry a date to work towards, it will become inconsequential if two-thirds of the industry remain closed due to the unsustainable restrictions currently in place which will no doubt result in a devastating amount of jobs lost within the sector. This week alone, we have seen a tsunami of businesses announce mass redundancies, and we can expect this to continue if we cannot see a step change towards reducing this two-metre rule before 15 July.
The group is also keen to find out more about the new Scottish Recovery Tourism Taskforce and hopes it will be able to assist the Scottish Government in taking a common sense approach to reopening and minimising any further damage to the industry as it enters the next phase.
Graeme added: “We welcome a task force being put in place, but it needs to take actions that will have real positive effects within the industry before any domestic visitor marketing campaign can be worthwhile.”
“We are suggesting measures that keep people safe, whilst being more attainable and easy to maintain within the restaurant and pub environment. It is crucial this is examined if we are to have a sustainable business and economy to rebuild following this pandemic.”