Scottish hospitality launches legal action against Government restrictions

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

Scottish hospitality launches legal action against Government Coronavirus restrictions

Related tags Scotland Coronavirus lockdown

Five of Scotland’s hospitality industry bodies have commenced legal action against restrictions imposed on the licensed trade by the Scottish Government.

The Scottish Beer & Pub Association, The Scottish Licensed Trade Association, UKHospitality (Scotland), the Scottish Hospitality Group (SHG) and the Night Time Industries Association Scotland have joined forces to represent both small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and large corporate multi-site operators within Scotland’s hospitality sector. 

Notice of the action was served to the Scottish Government yesterday morning (21 October).

The letter requested a response from the Scottish Government by 4pm on Wednesday 28 October 2020, failing which matters could move forward with a petition for judicial review.

It follows the trade bodies receiving an opinion by legal expert Aidan O’Neill QC advising that a judicial review would be warranted.  

In a joint statement, the group's spokesperson, Paul Waterson, said: “It is with regret that we now commence with this first stage in the legal process.

"We understand and entirely support the goal of suppressing the virus, but our sector is at breaking-point. 

“Despite having more mitigation measures than other sectors and the vast majority of operators going above-and-beyond in ensuring customer safety, our sector has been repeatedly targeted without consultation and without the evidence. 

“Anecdotal evidence is not the way to go about making government decisions and the sector should not be used as a balance to uncontrollable risks in other far less regulated and un-monitored sectors.  

“Evidence just published in Northern Ireland clearly states that the closure of hospitality only has an '0.1-0.2 impact on the R number' and that the lockdown there has been brought about to ensure behavioural and policy compliance in other areas. Effectively confirming that the hospitality industry has been held up as the sacrificial lamb.

“The economic support offered to premises doesn’t come close to compensating the businesses and means jobs are being lost and livelihoods ruined.  Any measures must be proportionate and be backed up by evidence, we do not believe that is the case here."

Restaurants, pubs and bars across Scotland’s central belt were told yesterday that they would have to remain closed until at least 2 November​, as leaders work on a tiered system for the country.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said that while there is 'cautious optimism' the restrictions, which came into effect on 9 October, are having an effect, Scottish ministers have been advised it would not be safe to lift measures on Monday (26 October) as originally planned.

Licensed premises across the rest of the country are allowed to remain open, but are temporarily banned from selling alcohol indoors and are subject to a 6pm curfew on indoor service.

Waterson said the industry simply could not endure the extension of the current restrictions.

"We are now facing the end of our industry as we know it," he added.

“The battle is now on to save the hospitality sector.”

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