The Scottish government ignored the ‘workable’ strategic framework presented to it by four trade bodies on Friday by announcing its own five-tier system yesterday that will sound the death knell for many businesses already on their knees.
UKHospitality Scotland, the Scottish Licensed Trade Association, Scottish Beer and Pub Association and the Scottish Hospitality Group collectively asked for the government to take on board their points and ensure that any legislation designed to keep communities safe and businesses intact “does not have the unintended consequence of delivering the final blow.”
But Marc Crothall, Chief Executive of the Scottish Tourism Alliance says that the restrictions will see hundreds of business close permanently.
He said, “Clarity on restrictions for hospitality businesses, as announced in parliament by the First Minister will without a shadow of a doubt create a wave of trauma and mental anguish across the sector with many hundreds of businesses who will fall into tier 3 or 4 now likely to stay closed beyond Christmas, or indeed permanently. Employees full and part time who had hoped to return to work are now put at even greater risk unemployment.
“Average fixed costs for business far outweigh the levels of grant support advised and for many in the sector it remains unclear if they will qualify for any support at all. The gap between the funding that is available and the costs of overheads and maintaining staff levels has become too great and I would expect imminent announcements of redundancies on a worrying scale, particularly for any businesses placed in Tier 3 or 4.
“The financial and mental strain experienced by business owners in our sector, many of whom I have conversations on a daily basis with is exacerbated by what is an extremely short timescale for implementing these measures; it is absolutely critical at this stage that more detailed information comes from the Scottish Government. Businesses have just days to make decisions on staffing levels, the procurement of stock and indeed in relation to whether or not it is viable to continue to trade at all.
We are also sitting on a mental health time bomb in the absence of more robust financial support.
Said Marc, “Without a robust package of support, our hospitality and tourism sectors are facing the bleakest of winters with very little hope of recovery beyond the beginning of 2021. The current and predicted impact on the mental health of those within our sector is now becoming one of the biggest issues and challenges we are all facing as we look to the weeks ahead, as is the economic impact on our communities.
“Scottish and U.K. Governments must as a priority, step up to the plate together as they have rightly done so to protect the NHS and the lives of those affected by Covid; however it must be an equal priority to also seek to protect the lives and livelihoods of thousands more who work right across the tourism and hospitality sectors and our supply chains.”
Nicola Sturgeon will confirm which areas will start in which tiers tomorrow.