The Scottish Licensed Trade Association (SLTA) has welcomed Nicola Sturgeon's announcement that social distancing measures in Scotland will be reduced on the understanding that additional practices are introduced by businesses from 15 July, when the industry can fully reopen.
Colin Wilkinson, (pictured), SLTA managing director, said: "While we acknowledge that outdoor areas will need to maintain two-metre social distancing for the present, this news will further help the rebuilding of the industry and gives Scotland's pubs and bars the lifeline they need for their survival.
"Without this reduction it is estimated that two-thirds of our pubs and bars would not have been able to open and operate viably, leading to many business closures and mass job losses.
"This announcement, however, does not help an estimated one-third of premises, which will still be wondering when they can reopen."
Wilkinson repeated the SLTA's call that the UK and Scottish governments must look at an extended detailed package of support for those businesses that are unable to reopen at this time.
He added: "Of course, the devil will be in the detail as to what extra procedures and practices will need to be adopted and the sector eagerly awaits government guidance on this.
"The first minister confirmed today that businesses in the hospitality sector will be required to take the contact details of customers to help with Scotland's Test and Protect programme, and we accept that this is both responsible and necessary under the circumstances.
The SLTA has welcomed the suggestion in the Scottish Government's Coronavirus (COVID-19): UK fiscal path – a new approach report published earlier this week of a possible temporary reduction in VAT, moving the tourism and hospitality industries onto a reduced rate of 5%.
"VAT in the UK remains one of the highest in Europe at 20% and before Covid-19 the SLTA was calling for a reduction to 5% so we would be on a par with countries such as Ireland," said Wilkinson. "That the Scottish government is now discussing this is most encouraging – it would go a long way to help the hospitality and tourism sector overcome the challenges created by the current pandemic."