National curfew in Scotland would be ‘catastrophic for hospitality industry’

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Stephen Montgomery, spokesperson for The Scottish Hospitality Group (SHG), has said that a national curfew in Scotland amidst rising COVID-19 transmissions would be “catastrophic for the hospitality industry” after Nicola Sturgeon said yesterday that she couldn’t rule out such a measure.

Said Stephen, who runs The Townhead Hotel, Lockerbie, “A national curfew in Scotland would be catastrophic for the hospitality industry. The current  ‘rule of  six’ restriction has meant that we are on life support. Further restrictions will flick the switch for many businesses, that once closed will not be able to open their doors again. This will principally hit late night venue owners who have invested significantly to adapt their premises to bar service.”

The First Minister spoke about a curfew for Scotland following UK Government ministers saying that they are considering introducing a 10pm or 11pm curfew on hospitality businesses if local measures don’t bring the spread of the virus under control in England.

She said, “I can’t stand here and rule anything categorically out. We see other countries that have introduced curfews on hospitality, including Belgium, which they think have had an impact.

“These are all things that we have to keep under review. But I don’t want to have to do any of these things. It comes back to the key point – the way to try and avoid further severe restrictions is to abide rigidly to the ones in place right now.”

Stephen Montgomery hopes that the Scottish government won’t take such a “blanket approach” because it would penalise responsible operators that are demonstrating full COVID compliance and because it could encourage illegal gatherings .

He said, “Responsible bar, restaurant and late night venue owners across Scotland have enhanced hygiene measures and controlled physical distancing in place.  They are also essential to the effective use of the track and trace system. If people have nowhere to go you are massively increasing the risk of more house parties and irresponsible gatherings, where track and trace is almost impossible.

“The vast majority of bars and restaurants are operating safely. We have been adhering religiously to every regulation that has been introduced by the Scottish Government and we will continue to do so. Compliance and maintaining a unified sector are critical and something that the SHG fully supports, but tighter restrictions may encourage rogue traders which must be avoided at all costs.”

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