Yesterday the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon declined to open beer gardens until at least 2nd July – citing the possibility of bars and restaurants being ‘hot spots’ for the transmission of the virus. Talking loudly and the potential of people singing can carry the virus further? She certainly hasn’t done much to help bolster confidence in the sector with that statement. It is nearly as bad as Boris saying ‘Don’t go to pubs and restaurants.’
She cities potential scientific evidence. Let us see the evidence. Could, in fact, everywhere be a ‘hot spot’ if ‘test, trace and isolate’ is not ramped up, even the Scottish Parliament – perhaps excessive loudness should be banned in the debating chamber at Holyrood – after all talking loudly or shouting anywhere enclosed is technically a ‘hot spot’. Rant over. But really research shows that confidence regarding going to pubs is already low. I hope in the interests of transparency the First Minister can tell us who the scientists she is taking advice from are.
Of course, no one wants to open and risk our employees and customers health, and we want to give our customers confidence when they come back to pubs that’s why licensees are putting so much effort to making their businesses Covid-19 free. But when I look around at what is happening outwith hospitality – mass demonstrations, queues for shops, no social distancing inside supermarkets – despite all the PR, mass gatherings in parks, swing parks that are not being wiped down… I can’t help but think that it would be more healthy to gather in a controlled environment with the right sanitation and procedures in place. And if music is really the biggest barrier to re-opening I am sure licensees would be happy to turn it off!
The government also released their Re-opening Guidance for tourism and hospitality –despite weeks in the writing is totally “underwhelming”. It has been described to DRAM as “a lot of information but no guidance.’ The Government is using scientific experts perhaps they should also reach out to the operators in the licensed trade that are experts who in fact offered their support to her in a letter on 21st May – and who still have not been contacted. They include the best operators in the country – Buzzworks, Montpeliers, Caledonian Heritable, Lisini, Manorview, DRG – they could have put together a comprehensive guidance plan which actually answered the questions everyone is asking. You can read the Government guidance here. Your comments are welcome: https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-tourism-and-hospitality-sector-guidance/
It’s hardly surprising that UK Hospitality also released some comprehensive guidelines too. They obviously had an inkling of what was coming, which our government has also directed you to. https://www.ukhospitality.org.uk/page/ScotlandGuidance
We want the Government to do their job and get test, trace and isolate’ sorted and let the hospitality industry make their businesses safe. That’s what they do on a daily basis. Hospitality owners want to open when the transmission rate lowers – so please First Minister let us all know at what level of ‘R’ can we open. If there is no infection the islands or North – why not let these pubs open earlier? The business owners that I have spoken to have all taken PPE and this is backed up by the survey results which show more than 70% have already bought PPE. We are doing our best to comply, to engage the government and to keep people in employment. Over to you.