UKHospitality Scotland and the Scottish Hospitality Group are urging the Scottish Government to follow the example of the UK Government and end trading barriers for hospitality and provide a clear plan on living with Covid when First Minister Nicola Sturgeon updates Parliament later today.
She is expected to reveal what the Scottish Government plans are regarding COVID passports in night-time hospitality settings, the compulsory wearing of face coverings, and use of the test and protect app. Ms Sturgeon will also set out the Scottish Government’s Strategic Framework, presenting a pathway to managing Covid in Scotland in the medium to long-term.
UKHospitality Scotland Executive Director, Leon Thompson said, “Hospitality was hit first, hardest and longest by restrictions. In Scotland alone, it has racked-up an estimated £12bn in lost sales over the last two years. UKHospitality Scotland is again calling on the Scottish Government to commit to measures in the Strategic Framework, that will help the sector rebuild and play its full role in the country’s social and economic recovery and renewal.
“It is vital that our businesses, which employed 285,000 people prior to the pandemic, be given the space and support they need. To achieve this, the Scottish Government must give clear and balanced health messaging and trust venues to keep their staff and customers safe. This will help the public make their own decisions on visiting and socialising in hospitality venues.
Stephen Montgomery, spokesman for the Scottish Hospitality Group said, “Hospitality needs a lifeline and today the First Minister must take the first step in giving that lifeline by moving regulative restrictions into guidance as a minimum, and doing away completely with Covid Certification in a hospitality setting.
“In April we will see the return of VAT to 20%, rates return, and NI rising, all on top of spiralling utility costs. It is time to put trust the public, who after two years are well versed in where they feel safe going, and hospitality is without doubt one of the safest places to socialise. The First Minister must put trust in the public, and businesses, and allow us all to take a further step forward into the world of normality before the financial pandemic hits in April.”
Leon Thomson added, “Full trading for hospitality is essential, but the need for government support remains. UKHospitality is campaigning for the UK Government to retain VAT at 12.5% permanently and we also call on the Scottish Government to extend the 50% relief on business rates to hospitality for at least a further three months. This move will help offset some of the losses incurred by businesses through messaging and restrictions introduced over Christmas and New Year.”
“Our businesses have extremely limited cash reserves, record levels of debt and are struggling with rising costs across the board. For the sector to emerge from the pandemic in a position to fully play its role in the wider economic recovery of the country, it needs a more stable and predictable operating environment as well as further support. The Strategic Framework must deliver that.”