New Coronavirus levels announced by the First Minister gives little cheer for Christmas tiers.
Earlier today the First Minister announced that more than two million people who have been living under the strictest COVID-19 protection level for three weeks will have restrictions eased this Friday with 11 level 4 local authority areas moving down to Level 3. Overall, half of all Scotland’s local authorities will move down a level this coming Friday.
Responding to the announcement the SLTA said:-
Little cheer remains for Scotland’s licensed hospitality industry even with the news that level four tiering will come to an end for those in parts of west central Scotland from 6pm on December 11th.
Many of Scotland’s pubs, bars and restaurants still face the threat of permanent closure and the risk of job losses still hangs over the heads of those employed in the sector, even with the current furlough scheme which is in place.
While this is a step in the right direction and it is excellent news that Angus, Falkirk and Inverclyde can move from level three into level two and Dumfries and Galloway move to tier 1, it has not gone far enough to help an industry in crisis.
Operators in all levels have already been forced to close down their businesses as it is simply unviable to operate with the current restrictions on the sale of alcohol, capacity levels and the operating times that are currently in place. The Scottish Government needed to lessen these to give some kind of hope for the industry as we head into our fourth winter period in January.
December is a crucially important part of the year for our industry for a number of reasons, but even more so this year as operators struggle to save their businesses. The licensed hospitality sector has borne the brunt of heavily restrictive measures this year and the opportunity to be open and doing what we do best over Christmas and New Year would have perhaps given a much-needed morale boost for both operators and staff – and help businesses claw back some of the huge financial losses they have incurred in 2020.
It is obvious that the licensed hospitality sector is being held up as the sacrificial lamb due to the inability to control the spread of the virus in other sectors and in private homes. The Scottish Government must therefore provide proper financial compensation before it’s too late.
This industry has and will continue to do all that it can to supress the virus, but it needs financial aid at realistic levels – at least similar to that now available in Wales – if the sector and the staff that it employs are to be here after spring 2021 and be part Scotland’s economic recovery.”