The Scottish Hospitality Group has today called on the Scottish government to ‘tweak the tiers' or publish the scientific evidence behind its restrictions on trading hours.
The group has warned that time is running out to save Christmas for businesses across Scotland, with continued deep uncertainty about what this year's festive season could look like. Businesses are calling for more help in the short- to medium-term to prevent closures and redundancies.
Stephen Montgomery, spokesperson for the Scottish Hospitality Group (SHG), said: "Remaining in the current tiers, or even worse moving up a tier, is a sucker punch for hard-working hospitality staff who face losing their jobs. The government asked us for refinements to the current restrictions that would protect the public and allow us to trade viably. We provided those recommendations, but they were completely ignored."
SHG has suggested an extension in trading hours in Tiers 2 and 3 to 10pm, as the group said there is no scientific evidence to support forcing premises to close their doors at 6pm or 8pm. Extending opening times by just a few hours, however, could ensure businesses can operate a full dinner service and bring in enough money to cover fixed costs such as rent, furlough contributions and staff pension payments.
Nic Wood, director of the Signature Pub Group, added: "The more viable we can be then the less of a burden we will be on the country and we will still provide safe places for people to socialise. Were it not for furlough, 75,000 people in the central belt would have lost their jobs this week. But the businesses that employ these people still need support to cover the furlough contribution and fixed costs.
"The Scottish government must sit up and listen to what industry is saying to them or the majority of hospitality businesses, particularly the small, independent operators without deep pockets, will not be here past Christmas. Just tweaking the guidance slightly will save thousands of jobs and save the taxpayer millions while still giving the public a safe place to meet friends and family."
The group said as a whole it is losing £1m every week it is closed or unable to trade viably, as well as an average cost of shutdown of £2,400 per venue.
SHG is made up of businesses that collectively employ almost 6,000 staff across the country and have a combined turnover of over £275m, and include the restaurant chain DRG Group, Buzzworks Holdings and Signature Pubs.
Photo: Flickr - Scottish Government