Scottish hospitality businesses 'will not survive' if forced to close before 10pm

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

Businesses 'will not survive' if forced to close before 10pm curfew Coronavirus tier system Scottish Hospitality Group

Related tags Scotland Curfew lockdown Coronavirus

Pubs and restaurants in Scotland 'will not survive Christmas' if they are forced to close earlier than 10pm, the Scottish Hospitality Group (SHG) has warned.

The industry body, which comprises nine of the country’s largest independent hospitality operators and collectively employ over 6,000 people, has urged the Scottish Government to change operational rules in Levels 2 and 3 of the country's Coronavirus restrictions to allow hospitality venues to remain open until later in the evening.

Currently, pubs, bars and restaurants in Level 3 must close at 6pm and are not allowed to sell alcohol; while in Level 2 closing time is 8pm indoors – where no alcohol can be sold – and 10.30pm outdoors for food and drinks.

The SHG says 'tweaking' the restrictions could help save thousands of jobs and prevent many business closures. 

It has also demanded the Scottish Government publishes the scientific evidence behind its decision-making.

"Remaining in the current tiers, or even worse moving up a tier, is a sucker punch for hard-working hospitality staff who face losing their jobs," says SHG spokesman Stephen Montgomery, who runs two hotels in Dumfries.

"The Government asked us for refinements to the current restrictions that would protect the public and allow us to trade viably. We provided those recommendations, but they were completely ignored."

Earlier this week the Scottish First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, announced that Angus, Fife and Perth and Kinross will join the central belt, Dundee and Ayrshire in Level 3 from Friday (13 November).

The SHG says by extending opening times to 10pm, restaurants could 'operate a full dinner service and bring in enough money to cover fixed costs such as rent, furlough contributions, and staff pension payments'.

"The more viable we can be then the less of a burden we will be on the country and we will still provide safe places for people to socialise," says Nic Wood, director of the Signature Pub Group.

"Were it not for furlough, 75,000 people in the central belt would have lost their jobs this week. But the businesses that employ these people still need support to cover the furlough contribution and fixed costs.

"The Scottish government must sit up and listen to what industry is saying to them or the majority of hospitality businesses, particularly the small, independent operators without deep pockets, will not be here past Christmas.

"Just tweaking the guidance slightly will save thousands of jobs and save the taxpayer millions while still giving the public a safe place to meet friends and family."

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