The announcement by the First Minister that outdoor areas in Scotland’s pubs and bars are to remain closed was met with shock and dismay by the Scottish Licensed Trade Association.
On hearing the announcement SLTA Managing Director, Colin Wilkinson said:-
“The First Minister’s announcement today is a bitter blow for Scotland’s Hospitality Sector, which expected to be able to now kick-start the rebuilding of the industry. With the decision now delayed until the 2nd of July, operators face another anxious period for the survival of their businesses. This may also have a knock-on effect for the re-opening of indoor areas, originally planned, all being well, for the 15th of July. This delay, hypothetically only 2 weeks before full reopening may be possible, with social distancing measures in place, again brings into question whether these first steps, for those who have an outdoor area or the potential to have one, will actually help businesses to start recovering from this pandemic.
With Government guidelines due to be published soon, hospitality businesses will have very little lead-in time to prepare for complying with guidance for outdoor areas, and that alone causes problems, especially on social distancing parameters, which look like remaining at 2m, and toilet provision for customers seated outdoors.
Research shows that unless the 2m social distancing parameters are reduced, the potential reductions in capacity could be as high as 87%.
”Without question, health and safety must come before profit, but the First Minister’s comment that ‘there is emerging evidence that places such as pubs, restaurants and gyms can be hotspots for transmission” will do nothing to alleviate customer confidence in returning to our pubs and bars. Already a recent survey to gauge how people feel about life post-lock down, revealed that 62% of people were unlikely to return to bars and restaurants for some time yet. The challenge of rebuilding our industry just got harder.
The need for ongoing support for the industry is now even greater with the announcement that outdoor areas will remain closed for at least another two weeks. Ongoing and increased support for the months ahead is essential and when the industry does start to rebuild, Governments, both north and south of the border, must not see this as a marker to further reduce support for the industry.”