Under new measures just announced by Nicola Sturgeon aimed at tackling a surge in Covid-19 cases in Scotland, all pubs and restaurants in central Scotland are to be closed, including Glasgow and Edinburgh.
The new rules will come into force at 6pm on Friday, and will be in place until at least 25 October.
Commenting on the announcement, UKHospitality Executive Director for Scotland Willie Macleod said: “This is a total catastrophe. Scottish hospitality is already on the brink and is unable to look ahead with any degree of confidence.
“Forced closures will spell the end for many, many venues which have no cash flow and will have exhausted their reserves. Severe restrictions to those businesses not forced to close will amount to a closure for many. It is likely to be the final straw for many that were only just hanging on. We are going to see businesses fold and many jobs lost.
“The First Minister stated that hospitality was by far the most impacted of sectors and we now need urgent confirmation of the details of the support package and how it will be applied. Without detail, it looks as though the £40m announced by the First Minister will not nearly be sufficient to support the sector. Any support to underwrite furlough will have to go far beyond the Job Support Scheme, which seems unlikely to be taken up by many hospitality businesses.
“We also need a route map for those businesses in the five health board areas across the central belt forced to close. We must have a clear plan for their reopening. We cannot afford to be left in limbo. It will just mean businesses unable to plan, employees worried for their jobs, consumer confidence shattered and businesses all the more likely to fail. The Government has to move quickly to save businesses and keep jobs alive.”
Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the measures are “intended to be short, sharp action to arrest a worrying increase in infection”.
The new restrictions cover an area with a population of circa 3.4 million and covers – Glasgow and Clyde, Lanarkshire, Forth Valley, Lothian and Ayrshire and Arran health board areas.
Nick MacKenzie, CEO of Greene King, which has 240 pubs in Scotland and 2,500 employees, said: “Today’s shut-down of Scottish pubs is a devastating blow for the thousands of people who work in the industry. We understand that decisive action needs to be taken to reduce the spread of COVID-19. We have invested millions of pounds in ensuring that our pubs are safe and only had six Test and Protect requests from NHS Scotland in total across our 125 managed pubs since we reopened on 15 July, having served millions of customers. It is time to stop unfairly targeting pubs.
“The sector has already seen pub closures and job losses and a second shut-down will see more closures and lost jobs in every Scottish community. We welcome the acknowledgement that support is needed but are concerned that £40m won’t go far enough and urgently need to understand the detail and the speed this can be deployed.”
The changes follow Scotland recording over 1,000 new confirmed cases of Covid-19 in one day for the first time. Those figures are however when Scotland is doing more testing than at the height of the Covid-19 crisis earlier in the year.
No scientific justification was given in the announcement as to why hospitality was once again the sacrificial lamb of government policy. Hospitality businesses throughout the region will doubtless be crying into their beer tonight at the prospect of trade being further damaged sinks in.
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Hospitality & Catering News: Nicola Sturgeon pubs restaurants – 7 October 2020 – Nicola Sturgeon pubs restaurants
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