Scottish government urged to relax rules to give hospitality 'a fighting chance'

13 April 2021 by
Scottish government urged to relax rules to give hospitality 'a fighting chance'

Scottish hospitality groups have expressed disappointment that the industry will still face tough restrictions after reopening this month despite lockdown rules being relaxed early.

The ban on travel around Scotland is to be lifted from Friday (16 April), 10 days earlier than originally expected.

First minister Nicola Sturgeon said she was "confident" all parts of the country in level four will move to level three on 26 April.

This means pubs, cafés and restaurants can open both indoors and outdoors, but inside areas face a ban on serving alcohol and an 8pm curfew.

Scottish hospitality will not be able to serve alcohol indoors or stay open until 10.30pm until 17 May.

Colin Wilkinson, managing director of the Scottish Licensed Trade Association, said the rules meant many businesses had decided not to reopen until next month.

Only 22.9% of licensed premises in Scotland have designated outdoors areas, according to a report from Alix Partners and CGA.

Wilkinson added: "By our reckoning it will not be viable for about two-thirds of the licensed trade to reopen on 26 April.

"We are now urging the Scottish government to consider loosening these restrictions to give our industry a fighting chance. England has reopened its hospitality industry, so let's fall into line with our colleagues south of the border."

Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the Scottish Beer & Pub Association (SBPA), said the Scottish government announcement "falls short" of what is needed to make licensed premises viable.

She said: "The first minister points to indoor reopening being ahead of England, but without alcohol service it is meaningless to licensed hospitality businesses and little comfort to Scottish brewers and other parts of the supply chain who will see no benefit."

Photo: Shutterstock

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