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SLTA News And Updates 21st October

SLTA News and Updates 21st October

The First Minister’s Statement today included extended restriction on the Licensed Trade and the introduction of a tiered system for the country beginning on the 2nd of November.

My main update for today  concerns the temporary restrictions on hospitality which we introduced two weeks ago, and which legally took effect on Friday 9th October.   

As I said yesterday, we will publish, and I can tell you now that we will do this on Friday, a new strategic framework for managing the virus, and indeed living with the virus through the winter and into the early parts of next year. That strategic framework will include different levels of restrictions that can be applied, either nationally or regionally, depending on the level of infection across the country or in different parts of the country.

Subject to parliamentary approval of the broad framework, it is intended that the levels will be applied from the 2nd November and reviewed regularly thereafter.   The detail of what level will initially apply to each part of the country will be assessed in the coming days and set out in advance of 2nd November.   It is important for me to be clear at this stage that given the nature of what we are dealing with, and given some of the numbers I’ve just reported, all be it with the caveats attached to them that I did.   We can’t rule out that this new approach will entail further extension of existing restrictions, or perhaps even tougher restrictions for all or parts of the country, if we think that is necessary to safeguard health and life. But that will depend on up to date assessments of the impact of our current restrictions, and it’s also important to be very clear that all of our decisions will be balanced by an assessment of the wider harms that COVID and the measures we are taking to tackle it are having, and that includes the wider harms to health and wellbeing and to jobs and livelihoods.

The timescale for introducing the new levels system leaves us with a short term decision about the current temporary restrictions on hospitality. These are currently due to expire on Monday coming, the 26th October.   However, following a meeting of the Cabinet this morning, I can confirm that we have decided to extend these measures for a further week. This is first and foremost a public health decision. Although we have grounds for cautious optimism that the restrictions are having an effect, the clinical advice to Cabinet is that it would not be safe to lift them as early as Monday.But, secondly, the extension allows us to transition more smoothly to the new levels system that we hope that will be introduced on 2nd November. So I can confirm that the current temporary restrictions will now apply until 6am on Monday 2nd November.  And that of course includes the tighter restrictions that are currently in place across the Central Belt. 

So I want to stress again, firstly that none of these decisions are being taken lightly. This is all about trying to save lives and minimise the health damage that this virus we know is capable of doing.

But I also want to stress that we do believe that these restrictions do make a difference, and indeed we believe they may already be making a difference. Even allowing for today’s figures, though it is and I must insert this note of caution, it is too early to be certain about any of this this.But even allowing for today’s figures we think that we may be starting to see a reduction in the rate at which new cases are increasing.So the early data underlines the importance of all of us sticking with the restrictions that are in place.

Now given that today’s Cabinet decision today requires many business to stay closed or continue to restrict their trading, I also want to confirm today that we will extend the support, the financial support available to them, to cover the additional week.Full details of that support and how it applies to different sizes of business will be published online. But there will be extensions to both the Business Support Grants that we offer, and the support we are providing at this stage for the job furlough scheme.All businesses will receive, proportionally, the same level of support over the extension 7 days – for each day of closure – as they did in the first 16 days of restrictions. And, for this limited period, as I say, we are also extending the Scottish Governments furlough support scheme for an extra week as well.Now later in the week, when we publish the new Strategic Approach to managing COVID, we will also set out our planned levels of support for the future in the event of further restrictions.

It is important to be clear at this stage, and this is a point that I will speak more about in days to come, but I want to be clear about it now. That while the level of support we set out in the strategic framework will be the maximum level of support that the Scottish Government is able to provide within the resources available to us at this time, it is the minimum that we think is necessary. In common with other devolved administrations and indeed many councils now across England, we will continue to pursue urgent discussions with the Treasury about the provision of adequate support and funding to support businesses and individuals through the kinds of restrictions that are likely to be necessary in the period ahead.

The Scottish Licensed Trade Association has expressed “extreme disappointment” at the decision by the Scottish Government to extend current restrictions on hospitality across Scotland ahead of the “tier” approach to local lockdowns that is expected to be introduced next month.

Paul Waterson, media spokesman for the Scottish Licensed Trade Association (SLTA), said:

We expected this so we are not surprised. However, yet again there has been no consultation with the industry and as we said earlier this month, we believe these measures to be cataclysmic for hospitality operators.

“Hundreds of businesses are facing permanent closure and with that thousands of jobs will be lost – the damage could be irreparable.”

A recent survey highlighted that nearly 40% of hospitality businesses were considering closure or business exit. In September, an SLTA survey of 600 on-trade premises highlighted that within the pub and bar sector, 12,500 jobs could go.

Mr Waterson added:

“We estimate that two-thirds of hospitality businesses could be mothballed or go under in the coming months. 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 40% of staff employed are under the age of 25.”

Reiterating that responsible operators continue to run safe, carefully monitored establishments, he said: “Our industry is in serious trouble and it is only going to get worse. The £40 million financial support package is nowhere near enough to save jobs and prevent operators from going under. And once again we do not have details of other financial help promised by the Scottish Government.

“Once again it is the licensed trade that is suffering and the current measures affect not just our industry but the wider economy.”

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