Some of the biggest names in Scottish hospitality, food and drink have written to Scotland’s First Minister asking for specific support to prevent the collapse of businesses due to the Coronavirus Pandemic.
Hospitality employs more than 220,000 people directly in Scotland but since the end of March hotels, bars and restaurants have been in lockdown.
Now leading operators are warning of business closures and mass unemployment in the sector unless the more support is forthcoming.
In a letter to Nicola Sturgeon, top chefs and restaurateurs including Michelin starred chefs Tom Kitchin and Martin Wishart predict Scotland could lose its international reputation for food and drink if their concerns are ignored.
“Social distancing simply does not work in most restaurants, bars and hotels. If furlough ends and restaurants, bars and hotels are allowed to reopen but with social distancing enforced and no income from major events and festivals, the result will be a tidal wave of business closures and mass redundancies, increasing Scottish unemployment and the strain on the welfare system,” they say.
The group, which includes Scotland’s only two Michelin star restaurant, chef Nick Nairn and the Three Chimneys on the Isle of Skye want action on key measures to save their sector.
*Furlough: A specific extension for hospitality staff beyond October to give the sector enough time to get back on its feet.
*Rent: More Scottish Government support against inflexible landlords who are still demanding full rent.
*Business Rates: An extension of the business rates holiday into next year to give the sector time to recover.
*Funding: Scotland needs an Independent Hospitality Development Fund to help businesses here adjust to new trading and target and build domestic tourism.
*Validation: With consumers nervous about venturing out again, they say a Covid Code is required to reassure the public that specific steps have been taken to keep them safe.
With these measures in place, the group believe the sector can recover and prosper again.