Scottish hospitality trade bodies propose route out of lockdown

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

Scottish hospitality trade bodies propose route out of lockdown

Related tags Scotland Coronavirus lockdown

Trade bodies in Scotland have called on the Government to follow England's roadmap out of lockdown 'as closely as possible' and set out recommendations to ease restrictions on hospitality.

Proposing changes to the country's regional system of lockdown measures, the Scottish Hospitality Group, UKHospitality Scotland, the Scottish Licensed Trade Association, Night Time Industries Association and the Scottish Beer & Pub Association say they have set out a 'pragmatic approach' that will avoid catastrophic business failure across the sector.

Scotland is expected to return to its five-stage 'levels' system of restrictions at the end of April​, with much of the country initially moving into Level 3 - the second-highest tier on the scale.

Under current Level 3 restrictions, hospitality is subject to a 6pm curfew and is prohibited from serving alcohol.

The trade bodies have urged ministers to mirror the reopening plans for England as closely as possible, with the stripping away of additional restrictions such as a curfew and serving alcohol only with a meal.

However, if the Scottish Government doesn’t move to a more simplified reopening strategy, the groups have also suggested 'a series of small tweaks' to current levels system that would allow the sector to meet both public health and economy objectives as strict Covid measures remain in place.

The suggested amendments include allowing indoor hospitality to remain open until 10:30pm with last entry at 8:30pm, with alcohol able to be served with a meal; while outdoors would be able to remain open until 11:30 with last entry at 9:30pm, with all alcohol sales permitted.

According to research by economic consultancy BiGGAR Economics, only 54% of hospitality businesses would be able to operate under the Scottish Government's current Level 3 restrictions, generating a turnover of £269m and supporting 21,900 jobs.

However, if the Government was to open with the proposed Level 3 industry changes, 73% of businesses could be operating, generating a turnover of £927m and supporting 53,300 jobs.

“This study highlights the severe negative economic impact that the Covid-19 lockdown has had on the hospitality sector, the businesses and people who work in the sector itself, and in the supply chain," says Graeme Blackett, director of BiGGAR Economics.

"It also demonstrates that the changes to the restrictions in the level system that the hospitality sector has proposed, can place the hospitality sector and the wider food and drink supply chain in a much stronger position.

"Adjustments to the restrictions could get thousands of people back to work and allow the sector to generate turnover and contribute significantly to the public finances in the coming weeks and months.”

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