finance

Scottish hospitality leaders call on government to "mirror England" and reopen sector



Scottish hospitality organisations have called on the Scottish Government to change its route out of lockdown, after setting out a strategy to re-open the sector safely, while contributing £1.2bn to the economy.

The Scottish Hospitality Group, UK Hospitality Scotland, Scottish Licensed Trade Association, Night Time Industries Association and the Scottish Beer & Pub Association set out the industry level system, in order to avoid “catastrophic” business failures across the sector.

They urged ministers to mirror the reopening plans for England as closely as possible, while removing the curfew and serving alcohol only with a meal.

They claimed this level system would save more than 60,000 jobs and contribute more than £1.2bn to the economy in the short term by altering the government’s level system.

Scotland is slowly winding out of lockdown in three week increments and is expected to transition from stay at home to the current level 3 system created last year after 26 April – although the First Minister may change her tune depending on the data.

Changes requested to the levels system by the hospitality industry, if the government doesn’t move to a more simplified reopening strategy, include:

Indoors

  • Alcohol only with a meal

  • Last entry at 8.30pm

  • Two-hour time slots

  • Closing at 10.30

  • Seated consumption only

  • No queuing

Outdoors

  • Alcohol permitted

  • Last entry at 9.30

  • Closing at 11.30

  • Seated consumption only

  • No queuing

Research from consultancy firm BiGGAR Economics revealed that the current level 3 restrictions would allow 54% of hospitality businesses to operate, generating a turnover of £269m and supporting 21,900 jobs.

However, if the government adopted the small tweaks to the level system suggested by the Scottish hospitality sector, it would allow 73% of businesses to operate, generating a turnover of £927m and supporting 53,300 jobs.

The research also showed that the proposed changes to level 2 would allow 91% of businesses to operate, supporting 68,000 jobs. The current model only supports 34,900 jobs.

Graeme Blackett, director at BiGGAR Economics, said: “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.”

Emma McClarkin chief executive at the Scottish Beer & Pub Association, said: “Our industry has been devastated by the pandemic and the recovery won’t truly begin until Scotland’s pubs are fully reopened – we cannot afford to delay the recovery and endanger the future of the industry, which is vital to Scotland’s economy.”

Willie Macleod, executive director at Scotland for UK Hospitality, said: “The plan for reopening Scotland’s economy has to acknowledge that hotels, bars and restaurants are still at severe risk and must place the survival of our sector, which will be integral to the economic recovery of the country, at its heart.”

Mike Grieve, chairperson at Night Time Industries Association Scotland, said: “The priority must be to set a clear roadmap out of lockdown as vaccination levels rise and hospitalisation rates drop, and to aim for full reopening of the sector at Level 0 with the complete removal of all trading restrictions, including social distancing, restricted capacity, restricted trading hours, curfews and restrictions on entertainment, performance, music and dancing.”

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