The Night-Time Industries Association (NTIA) has announced that it will be launching a judicial review challenging the validity of all legal restrictions being imposed on hospitality and night-time economy businesses in Scotland.
The group said that, given the number of coronavirus cases in the UK and the progress of the vaccination rollout, the restrictions were "no longer justifiable or proportionate" and a breach of the Human Rights Act.
In a statement the NTIA said that the hospitality sector, and particularly the late-night sector, have been "driven to the edge of insolvency" by coronavirus restrictions, which have made thousands of businesses "commercially unviable", for which government support has been "wholly inadequate to compensate for operating losses". It said as a direct result many businesses had incurred "unsustainable debt" – around £150,000 in debt per premises among small business owners – and that 39,000 jobs were at risk.
Gavin Stevenson, director of the Mor-Rioghain Group and vice-chair and spokesman for NTIA Scotland, said: "While Scottish government ministers have repeatedly paid lip service to the concept of consultation with the late night, music, culture, and licensed trade sectors, in reality there has been no meaningful consultation throughout the pandemic and little if any objective assessment regarding the balance of the four harms in many months…
"Given the success of the vaccine programme and enormous damage being inflicted on Scottish businesses and their employees, the reluctance of Scottish government to engage with our sector on a framework for full reopening appears little short of negligent, and the failure of government to adequately consider the harms being done to the economy, livelihoods, employment and mental health is inexcusable."
"Every other sector has a timetable to recovery, we have been given nothing," added Tony Cochrane, owner of clubs including Club Tropicana and Fat Sams in Dundee, Vienna's Paisley and Sing City Aberdeen. "All financial assistance has stopped and no further offer of funding with months of costs ahead and no income leaving us on the brink of collapse."
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