Scottish hospitality calls for further financial aid as 28 June reopening ‘unlikely'

16 June 2021 by
Scottish hospitality calls for further financial aid as 28 June reopening ‘unlikely'

Scottish hospitality is calling for further financial support following a statement by first minister Nicola Sturgeon yesterday where she said it was "unlikely" that any part of the country will move down to Level 0 on 28 June as hoped.

She said: "It is reasonable I think to indicate now that it is unlikely that any part of the country will move down a level from 28 June. Instead, it's more likely we will opt to maintain restrictions for a further three weeks from 28 June and use that time to vaccinate with both doses as many more people as possible."

This could potentially see Scotland ease its restrictions at the same time as England, after the prime minister announced on Monday that reopening on 21 June would be delayed, with a new indicative date of 19 July.

UKHospitality Scotland executive director Leon Thompson said the announcement was adding to the "continuing uncertainty" for hospitality businesses.

He said: "Level 0 is not the end and there will still be significant restrictions on hospitality, so it was good to hear the first minister refer again to publishing details of life beyond the current strategic framework and the promised review of physical distancing. Without this information businesses cannot begin to plan for the future and we look forward to seeing the details as quickly as possible.

"In the absence of progress, UKHospitality Scotland and our members will work with the Scottish government to review current restrictions on businesses, helping to identify pragmatic changes that can be made to improve the trading environment and customer experience."

The Scottish Licensed Trade Association (SLTA) was more pessimistic and said pubs were bracing for "potentially another lost summer". The trade association's managing director Colin Wilkinson called for further financial aid, including an extension to the support schemes available such as furlough, VAT reduction and deferral of loan repayments.

He said: "Currently, we can only operate at around 30% of our capacity, but with increased staff costs to provide table service and fewer tables because of social distancing rules, most business continue to operate at a loss, racking up further debt every time they open the doors.

"For those still unable to open because of their size or the entertainment they provide, such as late opening premises and nightclubs, it is another devastating blow for an abandoned sector crippled by restrictions and with no route map out of the pandemic."

He also spoke of the uncertainty for the industry: "We understand the need for caution but the Scottish government must also understand that this delay will cost an already beleaguered industry millions of pounds and puts in jeopardy the future survival of many of the pubs, bars, restaurants, hotels and late-night bars that form part of Scotland's social fibre.

"Our big fear is that [outdoor event space] the Glasgow Euro fan zone could lead to further Covid outbreaks followed by a fresh lockdown, forcing licensed premises to close again when they have only just managed to start reopening."

Meanwhile, Stephen Montgomery, group spokesperson for the Scottish Hospitality Group, said: "There are two other things we want from the Scottish government that they can do right now. The first is to get out from behind their desks to understand how better policy decisions can work for everyone. The second is to make sure there's proper financial support for businesses that can't trade viably for no fault of their own, including when one positive result means critical staff having to self-isolate.

"The health secretary was happy to reassure himself with a visit to the fan zone. We've been crying out repeatedly for senior ministers to do this with hospitality too and it's never happened yet. Now is the perfect time to put that right."

Photo: cornfield/

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