Trade urges First Minister to steady the boat as panic sets in


The Scottish Hospitality Group (SHG) has urged the First Minister to steady the boat this lunchtime when she has her Covid briefing about the current Omicron outbreak, following Public Health Scotland’s statement last night which advised people to postpone their Christmas parties.

The news was met with disbelief by hospitality operators, having only just heard from Scotland’s National Clinical Director, Jason Leitch earlier in the day that Christmas parties were not off the agenda,

This morning on BBC Radio Scotland Leitch confirmed that Christmas parties were not banned, but suggested that people use their common sense,  think “twice” and “carefully.”  But that “There would not be bouncers or police telling you not to go.”

The overall number of Omicron cases this morning is 109, although the Scottish Government has said that this is a “relatively lower number of confirmed cases” due to a change in reporting which comes with a two-day lag due to “additional quality control and processing.” With new coronavirus cases sitting at 3,196.

Larger hospitality groups are estimating losses due to the cancellations between £200K and £250K for this week alone. While smaller operators are saying that cancellations are now running at 50%.

Cabinet Secretary for Finance Kate Forbes has said that the Scottish Government has asked for funding to support hospitality from the UK Government and re-iterated that request only yesterday.

Stephen Montgomery of the Scottish Hospitality Group comments, “We need the advice coming from Government and Health bodies to be consistent. Hospitality venues need clarity and if further mitigations are required we need to know now and we need financial support to cover our losses, not just for the business, but to protect the jobs of our staff who have been through everything alongside us. We have all staffed up for the Christmas period, our orders are all through, and now we are seeing massive cancellations.  Once again the rug has been pulled from under our feet and without any sort of consultation. SHG requested in August this year, for a winter contingency plan to be set up for a “what if” scenario, and here we are, slap bang in the middle of it all. It is not just good enough for Government to say they have updated the strategic framework document. That alone, without the emergence and planning of financial support, leaves us overboard without a lifebelt.”