Hospitality bodies put forward tweaks to Levels which could help save 60,000 jobs

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Five of Scotland’s hospitality bodies have collectively presented the Scottish Government with an updated Level System for its Strategic Framework which would allow 60,000 hospitality workers to retain their jobs and which would also contribute £1.2bn to the Scottish economy.

The proposed series of small tweaks to the current levels system would allow the sector to meet both public health and economy objectives as strict COVID measures would remain in place.

For instance in Level three currently inside and outside there is no alcohol allowed, 5pm is the last entry and there is a 6pm close.  The trade bodies asks are suggesting that inside:

  • Alcohol only with a meal
    Last entry at 8.30pm
    Two-hour time slots
    Closing at 10.30
    Seated consumption only
    No queuing
    Outdoors

And outside:

  • Alcohol permitted
    Last entry at 9.30
    Closing at 11.30
    Seated consumption only
    No queuing

The trade bodies who have forward the proposals include the Scottish Hospitality Group, UK Hospitality Scotland, Scottish Licensed Trade Association, Night Time Industries Association and the Scottish Beer & Pub Association and the plans been submitted to the Scottish Government, mirror the reopening plans for England as closely as possible, with the stripping away of additional restrictions such as a curfew and serving alcohol only with a meal.

They have backed up their proposal with research from leading economic consultancy, BiGGAR Economics. Their figures show that under the current Level 3 restrictions, 54% of hospitality businesses could be operating, which generates a turnover of £269 million and supports 21,900 jobs. If the government was to open with the proposed Level 3 industry change, 73% of businesses could be operating, generating a turnover of £927 million and supporting 53,300 jobs.

Graeme Blackett, Director of BiGGAR Economics, said, “This study highlights the severe negative economic impact that the COVID-19 lockdown has had on the hospitality sector.”  He adds, “It also demonstrates that the changes to the restrictions in the level system that the hospitality sector has proposed, can place the hospitality sector and the wider food and drink supply chain in a much stronger position. Adjustments to the restrictions could get thousands of people back to work and allow the sector to generate turnover and contribute significantly to the public finances in the coming weeks and months.”

BiGGAR Economics’ study also found that under the newly proposed Level 2 changes, 91% of businesses could be operating, which would generate a turnover of £1.2 billion and support 68,000 jobs. This is compared to current Level 2 restrictions in which only 73% of business could operate, generating a turnover of £634 million and supporting only 34,900 jobs.

Stephen Montgomery, Group Spokesperson for the Scottish Hospitality Group, said,  “We hope that this latest research will give the Scottish Government the push to re-address the current levels system which has unfairly targeted our industry since last year.”

CEO of the Scottish Beer & Pub Association, Emma McClarkin said,  “Should the Scottish Government remain wedded to a regional levels approach then our joint plan would see an additional £658m in turnover and support an extra 31,400 jobs in Level 3 compared to the current system. Government must listen to the industry and give the thousands of operators are glimmer of hope.”

Willie Macleod, Executive Director, Scotland for UK Hospitality (UKH) said, “The plan for reopening Scotland’s economy has to acknowledge that hotels, bars and restaurants are still at severe risk and must place the survival of our sector, which will be integral to the economic recovery of the country, at its heart. The report from BiGGAR Economics shows how the reopening of hospitality venues can secure jobs, kick-start the vital supply chain and ensure that public health remains a priority.”

Mike Grieve, Chairperson of NTIA Scotland said, “We strongly urge the First Minister to act on the proposed revised levels as outlined in the Hospitality Joint Association letter, and to engage in discussions with the group to find solutions appropriate to the needs of all hospitality businesses as a matter of urgency. The priority must be to set a clear roadmap out of lockdown as vaccination levels rise and hospitalisation rates drop, and to aim for full reopening of the sector at Level 0 with the complete removal of all trading restrictions, including social distancing, restricted capacity, restricted trading hours, curfews and restrictions on entertainment, performance, music and dancing.”

Dayalan Nayager, Managing Director of Diageo GB, said, “We support our colleagues across the hospitality sector in seeking a safe and sustainable reopening of businesses, with appropriate measures to protect people and communities while also securing the economic future of the industry and those who work in it.”

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