SHG: ‘The government must acknowledge that the new restrictions will end in hundreds, if not thousands of job losses’

Stephen Montgomery

The Scottish Hospitality Group (SHG) has demanded that the Scottish government admit that its new five-tier system will send hospitality businesses to the wall with incalculable job losses.

With not ‘one single recommendation’ taken on board from trade bodies the Scottish government consulted with, Scotland’s five-tier Covid alert system announced yesterday by Nicola Sturgeon that puts most of the country in tier 3 has been called neither ‘proportionate’ nor ‘sustainable’ and ‘too much’ by both SHG and UKHospitality.

SHG spokesman Stephen Montgomery said, “The Scottish government’s tiered covid-19 alert system will only lead to chaos and failure. This approach is neither ‘proportionate’ or ‘sustainable’. We put together a detailed, workable plan for how hospitality could operate safely and viably in each tier. The Scottish government did not take on board one single recommendation that we put forward to save jobs.

“This is yet another example of government talking to industry but not listening. Saving jobs is key to protecting people’s livelihoods and the economy. It’s not rocket science – too few hours and too many staff exclude many businesses from claiming the Job Retention Scheme.

“The government must acknowledge that the new restrictions will end in hundreds, if not thousands of job losses. From Monday (2 November), more than 70% of the country’s population will be living indefinitely under tier three restrictions. Allowing restaurants to open for two more hours in this tier would enable them to serve another course and would result in saving 100 jobs for one of our members alone.”

UKHospitality executive director for Scotland Willie Macleod says that this will be the final nail in the coffin for some businesses unless the Scottish government steps up its financial support and that once again these restrictions have all come at the eleventh hour leaving operators no time to prepare.

He said, “The majority of hospitality businesses are going to find themselves in level three and will be badly affected by the restrictions.

“Businesses in level two areas will also feel the hit due to the restrictions to all but essential travel. It will also be a blow to accommodation businesses in level two as they might have expected some business from level three areas and will now not get it. The reality is that, for some businesses, these restrictions will be too much. Businesses will be closing their doors and, for some, they will remain closed permanently with the associated job losses.

“It is imperative that the Scottish Government provides details of easily accessible financial support available for the duration of the restriction and, in all likelihood, beyond that. We need confirmation of the level of support that will be offered to businesses in each level and details of how the Job Support Scheme, both Open and Closed, will apply across the levels.

“Once again, it is disappointing that businesses have only 3 days’ notice to prepare for the changes. As we have said repeatedly, it is vital that businesses have as much time as possible to prepare for measures that will have a huge impact. We need to give venues the best possible chance of staying open. Each closure has a real risk of being a permanent one, with the job losses that this will inevitably bring.”