First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon has announced a new five-level system of coronavirus restrictions, which will come into force from 2 November, when temporary curbs on the hospitality trade are due to expire.
The new model has been described by Scottish Hospitality Group as yet another “unnecessarily complex system”.
The five-tier system of restrictions to be introduced can be applied locally or nationally and will be reassessed on a weekly basis, and are as follows:
- At Level 0, weddings and funerals will be limited to 50 people, eight people from a maximum of three households will be able to socialise indoors, and 15 people from five households can meet outdoors.
- From Level 1, this reduces to the rule of six, and weddings and funerals will be limited to 20 people.
- From Level 2, no in-home socialising will be allowed but households will still be able to mix in hospitality settings. Level 3 will see alcohol sales in hospitality venues restricted to accompany a meal, while Level 4 will see the closure of hospitality premises.
- Accommodation services such as hotels can remain open up to Level 4, when stays will be limited to the essential only, such as work-related travel.
First minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “Our objective is to get the virus to low levels again so that we can live with as few restrictions as possible and allow businesses to operate as close to normal as possible. But we have to be realistic. In a global pandemic, some restrictions are likely to be necessary for a while to come.”
She said businesses would be supported “to the maximum possible extent within the resources we have available to us”.
This includes grants of £2,000-3,000 for businesses required to close for every four weeks that they must remain closed. Those businesses that are able to trade but trading is impacted by restrictions will be given £1,400-£2,100.
Stephen Montgomery, spokesperson for the Scottish Hospitality Group, said: “The Scottish government’s current approach is impacting on people’s lives and livelihoods with devastating consequences. They need to sit down and work with businesses before it is too late and save an industry that is the third biggest employer in the country.
“The new financial support package, while welcome, is the equivalent of being abandoned at sea with only a lifejacket. We cannot survive if the intention is to impose these restrictions indefinitely. Since March, pubs and restaurants have effectively been closed for 20 weeks – whether by force or by the nature of the restrictions – and have only been trading for 12 weeks. No other sector has faced this level of sacrifice.
“More levels are just another example of an unnecessarily complex system that leaves both businesses and the public confused. The hospitality industry is still left bearing the brunt with no scientific, statistical or medical evidence for these restrictions.”
UKHospitality has welcomed the chance to liaise with the Scottish Government on the new five-level system of coronavirus restrictions and has reiterated that any actions that may impact Scotland’s hospitality businesses must be proportionate.
UKHospitality Executive Director for Scotland Willie Macleod said: “The confirmation of financial support for businesses is welcome and we appreciate the opportunity to feed back on the impacts of our sector. It is encouraging to hear the First Minister single out our sector and indicate that the Scottish Government understands we are being uniquely hit by this crisis.
“We will, of course, be making the point that action needs to be proportionate and we would like to see more areas and their businesses in lower levels of the framework. Additionally, businesses are now dealing with a change in restrictions and associated disruption that comes with it. We need clarity on the levels in the alert system and a clear route map for businesses on how they move into a lower level.
“Any additional powers given to Environmental Health Officers to enforce and monitor the restrictions must also be proportionate and come with clear and consistent guidance.
“We will be awaiting the figures which show the impact that restrictions have had on hospitality. That will give us an idea of how any future restrictions must be applied to juggle the twin demands of public health and ensuring that businesses are not strangled further.”