Moving parts of west central Scotland into level four effectively signals permanent closure for many licensed hospitality premises, the Scottish Licensed Trade Association has warned.
This afternoon the First Minister announced changes to the Covid-19 protection levels that will apply in each local authority area in Scotland from the 20th and 24th November 2020.
In her statement she said:-
I will report on the outcome of the Scottish Government’s review of the Covid-19 protection levels, and set out the difficult but necessary decisions we have reached about the appropriate level of protection in each local authority area.
In reaching these decisions, the Scottish Government has taken careful account of case numbers and test positivity in different parts of Scotland. We have also considered the trends in each area – and the pace, or otherwise, of these trends – and we have assessed what all of that might mean for hospital and intensive care capacity.
Parliament will have the opportunity to debate these decisions I understand on Thursday.
This week – given that the levels system has now been in place for almost three weeks – we have also had the chance to reflect on what we have learned so far about the effectiveness of different levels in reducing prevalence and on the importance of acting quickly and firmly against this virus.
In summary, therefore, the Cabinet has decided the following:-
19 council areas – the majority – will see no change to their levels this week.
I am pleased to say that from the start of next week – assuming no significant deterioration in the situation before then – two areas will move down from level 3 to level 2.
However, 11 local authorities will from 6pm on Friday, for a strictly limited period, move from level 3 to level 4.
I can confirm that Orkney, Shetland, the Western Isles, Moray and the Highlands will remain in level 1. For now, in common with the rest of the country, we are asking people in Moray and the Highlands not to visit other people’s houses. However, for all areas in level 1, it will be permissible from Thursday to meet outdoors with up to 8 people from a maximum of 3 households.
I can confirm that Aberdeen City, Aberdeenshire, the Borders, Dumfries & Galloway, and Argyll & Bute will all remain at level 2.
I am pleased to report that East Lothian and Midlothian have both seen a marked decline in infection rates – prevalence in these areas is significantly below the level for Scotland as a whole. On that basis, assuming no significant deterioration before then, I can confirm that East Lothian and Midlothian will move from level 3 to level 2 from next Tuesday 24 November.
I can confirm that the City of Edinburgh, Clackmannanshire, Falkirk, Inverclyde, North Ayrshire, Dundee, Fife, Perth & Kinross and Angus will all remain at level 3 for now.
Let me turn now to our decisions about level 4.
The council areas that will move to level 4 for a limited period from Friday are: the City of Glasgow, Renfrewshire, East Renfrewshire, East Dunbartonshire, West Dunbartonshire, North Lanarkshire, South Lanarkshire, East Ayrshire, South Ayrshire, Stirling and West Lothian.
The level 4 restrictions will be in place for 3 weeks from Friday 20thNovember and will be lifted on 11 December.”
To read the First Minister’s full statement today in the Parliament click here.
Responding to First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s announcement in the Scottish Parliament today, the SLTA’s managing director, Colin Wilkinson, said:-
This is the worst possible news for the licensed hospitality industry and there will be many operators who will now be seriously considering if their businesses have a future at all – that’s how serious the situation is.
Many operators in levels two and three areas have already taken the reluctant decision to close down their businesses as it is simply unviable to operate with the current restrictions on the sale of alcohol and the operating times that are currently in place. Even hotels and restaurants serving food feel defeated by these unnecessarily complex and ever-changing guidelines.
Moving into level four suggests that the closing of pubs and bars in October in five health board areas, prior to the introduction of the tier system, has done little to bring down the rate of Covid-19 infections,” said Mr Wilkinson. “And yet again, there has been no meaningful engagement with our industry and there has been no evidence to prove that the virus is being spread within the licensed hospitality sector.
We reiterate that we support the goal of suppressing the virus – of course we do,” he continued. “But we also reiterate that we are a sector in crisis with hundreds of businesses facing permanent closure and thousands of jobs hanging in the balance. Sadly, for some, the damage is already irreparable.”
Meanwhile, an SLTA survey of 600 on-trade premises highlighted that within the pub and bar sector, 50,000 jobs could go. The trade body estimates that two-thirds of hospitality businesses could be mothballed or go under in the coming weeks. Over 50% of jobs in the pub and bar sector could also be lost which will have a particularly deep impact on the employment of young people as over 45% of staff employed are under the age of 25.
Closing these businesses also brings additional immediate financial costs for operators with the cost of actually closing a small wet pub around £2,000, a medium food pub around £6,000 and a large pub between £8,000 and £10,000. There are also the ongoing costs while closed which fall far short of support grants currently in place.”
An SLTA survey revealed that the average fixed costs over a wide range of licensed hospitality business types came to over £11,000 per month.”