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Only 42% of Scotland's pubs and bars able to open

09 December 2020 by
Only 42% of Scotland's pubs and bars able to open

Just 42% of Scotland's pubs and bars will be able to open from Friday, although further economic support for the sector is expected to be announced today.

That is according to the Scottish Beer & Pub Association (SBPA), following first minister Nicola Sturgeon's announcement yesterday that all 11 local authorities currently in level four restrictions will move to level three from 11 December.

Hospitality businesses in these areas have been closed apart from delivery and takeaway under level four. Under level three, venues can reopen for food and non-alcoholic drinks, but alcohol cannot be served and venues must close by 6pm.

Chief executive of the SBPA Emma McClarkin said the announcement was "bittersweet" for Scotland's pubs and bars, and while news of further economic support was "hugely welcome and long overdue", she added: "The unwillingness of the government to review the time restrictions on hospitality and lack of progress on the levels in certain areas like Edinburgh, is hugely disappointing. Only 42% of Scotland's pubs and bars will be able open under these restrictions, leaving the majority on life support."

She said: "The Christmas and New Year period is critically important to businesses in the hospitality sector and the news today that many will be unable to trade as they had hoped and expected will sadly mean some tough business decisions being made over the next few days.

"In order to save jobs and hundreds of Scottish businesses, the Scottish government must now ensure that the financial support package at least matches those on offer to pubs, bars and their supply chains in Wales. Currently, the average Welsh pub will receive four times more in financial support than the average Scottish pub over the Christmas period."

The Scottish Licensed Trade Association (SLTA) warned that many of Scotland's pubs, bars and restaurants still face the threat of permanent closure and the risk of job losses still hangs over the heads of those employed in the sector, even with the current furlough scheme in place.

SLTA managing director Colin Wilkinson said: "While this is a step in the right direction and it is excellent news that Angus, Falkirk and Inverclyde can move from level three into level two, it has not gone far enough to help an industry in crisis.

"Many operators even in levels two and three areas have already been forced to close down their businesses as it is simply unviable to operate with the current restrictions on the sale of alcohol, capacity levels and the operating times that are currently in place."

Meanwhile, some of the biggest names in Scottish hospitality, including Tom Kitchin and Martin Wishart, are backing a new ‘Taste Edinburgh' campaign to encourage people to support the Scottish capital's independent hospitality businesses.

The initiative, devised and co-ordinated by Taste Communications, offers online gift vouchers for Edinburgh restaurants, bars or hotels as Christmas gifts.

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