‘Devasting’ ‘Betrayed’ ‘At a Precipice’ – Trade bodies respond to ScoGov decision to extend restrictions

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The Scottish Beer & Pub Association, Scottish Hospitality Group and UKHospitality have all condemned the unfair targetting of hospitality by Scottish Government as First Nicola Sturgeon extended what was supposed to be a ‘short and sharp’ circuit breaker for another week.

Commenting on the extension of the restrictions on hospitality premises for another week, Emma McClarkin CEO of the Scottish Beer & Pub Association said, “This news is absolutely devastating for the sector. We were told that these measures were to be ‘short’ and ‘sharp’ but now the Scottish Government have gone back on that, leaving operators feeling betrayed. The extension of the economic support is welcome, but still in no way makes up for the lost income of another week fully closed. The trade now feels even more let down by the Government and unfairly targeted by the measures which are costing jobs and livelihoods. Scotland’s pubs and bars have repeatedly been subject to some of the most penalising restrictions in the world, but without the evidence to back it up. The situation cannot continue.”

Stephen Montgomery, the spokesperson for the Scottish Hospitality Group, agreed saying, “Recent restrictions were framed as a ‘temporary’ short, sharp shock, but the extension is an indication that we can only expect a continued government stranglehold on hospitality that will have devasting consequences.  We now plead with the First Minister to sit down with us so that we can work together on a flexible funding model and long-term strategic approach that will save jobs and protects livelihoods in Scotland’s hospitality businesses.

“If this does not happen thousands of hospitality jobs will be lost in the coming weeks, as furlough ends, with the potential of many more to follow. We have repeatedly called on the Scottish Government to work with us on a solution to safeguard an industry that is the third biggest employer in the country.

He continued, “The current restrictions will now remain in place until 2nd November, but there is no indication of what the new tier system will entail or the financial support that will be available. This uncertainty is driving the trade to the edge of a precipice and at some point, in the very near future, there will be no coming back from the edge for many operators.”

UKHospitality Executive Director for Scotland Willie Macleod said, “This is another catastrophic blow for Scottish hospitality. It is becoming increasingly difficult for businesses to keep pace with the constant change in the restrictions they are operating within.

“Many of these businesses are barely hanging on. They have had their revenue strangled or shut off altogether and many will have little or no cash in reserve. Extending the restrictions for another week could finish off those businesses that had just about managed to formulate a plan to see them through the initial lockdown.

“The support on offer isn’t going to be enough to save the sector. The £40m announced by the Scottish Government was intended to cover a 16-day period to 25 October. That sum was inadequate when it was announced and it is only going to be diluted further.

“Businesses are going to go under and take valuable jobs with them. It is now vital that the Scottish Government outlines plans for additional support to keep the sector from being totally wiped out.

“We are expecting an announcement tomorrow on the Scottish Government’s proposed tier system. That needs to be accompanied by a confirmation of how it intends to support businesses that continue to be hammered and some indication of the route map for businesses during these uncertain and distressing times.”

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