UKHospitality Scotland has responded to the announcement from First Minister Nicola Sturgeon that restrictions currently in place for Scottish hospitality will continue, saying the sector’s hopes for the easing of restrictions have been ‘torpedoed’.
Under current guidelines, Scottish hospitality venues such as restaurants and bars are required to operate on a table-service only basis, as well as ensuring a one-metre difference between different groups of people.
The rules also state that no more than three households should make up one group and that nightclubs must remain closed, unless they operate as a pub with table service.
Despite these restrictions, large outdoor public events will once again be allowed to take place from 17 January, including attendance of football matches and other sports fixtures.
UKHospitality Scotland Executive Director Leon Thompson commented: “Hospitality businesses needed to hear that restrictions on them would be removed next week. Instead, whilst people will be able to attend capacity sporting events from Monday, hospitality businesses will remain bound by table service, physical distancing and nightclubs closed.
“Restrictions, combined with messaging to avoid crowded places and to stay at home as much as possible, torpedoed hospitality’s hopes for a busy festive period. Many businesses were left counting the cost when another opportunity to start their recovery was snatched away. After today’s statement from the First Minister, businesses and their workforce are left to wait a further week to hear when things might change for them. In the meantime hospitality businesses in England trade with far fewer restrictions and covid cases remain lower.
“The First Minister talked about a gradual easing of restrictions, but our sector has been closed or restricted for almost two years now. Any positivity that could be taken from possible changes on the near horizon was scuppered with further talk of vaccine passports and possible wider application. The phrase ‘living with covid’ sounds more and more like ‘living with significant ongoing restrictions’.
“UKHospitality Scotland will continue to push the Scottish Government to end its campaign of forced closures and restricted trading on our sector. The Scottish Government has produced no evidence that limiting Scotland’s most important economic sector is leading to reduced rates of covid infection. The opposite appears to be true as people simply socialise at home, away from well-run businesses and in confined spaces. There is no justification for these ongoing sanctions against our businesses.”