SHG calls on First Minister to accelerate reopening of Scotland's hospitality sector

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

Scottish hospitality bosses call on First Minister to accelerate reopening of country's hospitality sector

Related tags Scotland Hospitality Coronavirus lockdown Restaurant

The Scottish Hospitality Group (SHG) has called on First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to confirm a similar reopening strategy to that outlined for England by Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

With Sturgeon expected to set out her own roadmap out of lockdown restrictions later today (23 February), the SHG has warned that failing to offer a comparable plan to unlock hospitality businesses in Scotland will be 'an incredible betrayal' of all those who work in the sector.

Yesterday (22 February) the Prime Minister confirmed that restaurants, pubs, hotels and B&Bs in England will be able to reopen for dine-in guests from 17 May 'at the earliest' under a four-stage plan for lifting restrictions.

As had been rumoured, outdoor hospitality settings including pub beer gardens will be able to reopen earlier than indoor ones and are scheduled to unlock from 12 April.

The final stage of the plan, on 21 June, will see night-time economy businesses, such as nightclubs, finally allowed to reopen after more than a year a closure.

All legal restrictions on events such as weddings are expected to be removed at this time.

Johnson said his roadmap is designed to guide the country 'cautiously but irreversibly' out of lockdown, with each stage of the plan separated by a five-week gap to gauge how the easing impacts transmission levels.

Buoyed by the announcement, the SHG has called the Scottish Government to take confidence from the new study showing how effective the vaccine is being and to aim for an even earlier opening for Scotland’s beleaguered hospitality industry.

“The Prime Minister has finally given hope to the thousands of hard-working staff and business owners in the country’s pubs, restaurants, hotels, event venues and nightclubs," says SHG spokesperson Stephen Montgomery.

"It’s vital that we see the Scottish Government take a similar evidence-based approach as these encouraging plans. By the time May comes around we’ll have endured more than a year of avoidable pain when all along we could have been part of the solution. Now, at last, we may be able to prepare for a return to normality."

While restrictions in England will be eased nationally, Sturgeon has previously said that Scotland will return to a tiered system of restrictions when lockdown measures are relaxed.

"We desperately want to see Nicola Sturgeon confirm similar plans for Scotland in her statement, and allow us to be a part of that," continues Montgomery.

Anything less would be an incredible betrayal of those people whose livelihoods have been under threat for so long.”

The SHG comprises many of the country’s largest and best-known restaurant and bar businesses with 200 venues between them employing 6,000 staff.

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