SHG: Lack of Covid-19 progress shows that hospitality is not the cause

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Negative or slow trends in the battle against coronavirus are proving that Scotland’s pubs, restaurants and hotels are not the cause of the problem, according to the Scottish Hospitality Group.

For more than a month the majority of premises across the country have been forced to shut or are doing minimal trade, especially across the central belt where there are both the toughest restrictions and the highest levels of the virus.

Group spokesperson Stephen Montgomery said, “Since most hospitality businesses are either shut or virtually empty, how can they possibly be responsible for the spread of the virus. Some parts of the country are even seeing increases and it’s certainly not because people are out drinking or socialising in our premises. We agree with Professor Leitch’s previous comments that household transmission is the biggest issue.”

The group is calling for licensing hours for off-sales and hospitality to be aligned from 10am – 10pm in tier 2. It also says that businesses in tier 4 must have certainty as soon as possible before 11 December so they can prepare to salvage Christmas and Hogmanay as much as they can.

Stephen Montgomery added, “If alcohol was really that much of an issue then off-sales would have been restricted, but instead people are allowed to make spur-of-the-moment purchases to socialise with friends or family at home. Not only do homes lack the safety measures that we have in our businesses, for example the legal trace and protect system, but there’s no visibility of the problem for the government and people are never going to self-report that they’ve been breaking the rules.”

“There’s no evidence-based argument for allowing off-sales until 10pm while we are prevented from serving a glass of wine with food up until 10pm in tier 2. And since the argument seems to be that alcohol isn’t that much of a factor, we should be able to serve food and soft drinks until 10pm without alcohol in tier 3.”

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