First Minister’s Announcement Is A Bitter Pill To Swallow For Scotland’s Pubs And Bars

The Scottish Licensed Trade Association said today that the announcement of a 10pm early closing for the industry from Friday will have a devastating effect on the sector which has done so much already to provide as safe an environment as possible for customers.

Yet again, the industry seems to be the major focus of further restrictions despite other sectors also having been reopened.

Colin Wilkinson, SLTA managing director said: “Research shows that the industry has spent around £15 million on training and implementing social distancing measures across the entire sector to reopen and rebuild consumer confidence.

“For many this will be the final nail in the coffin, particularly for operators in the late-night economy and those providing for the younger market for which these measures are effectively a lockdown. The recently introduced six-person two-household rule knocked customer confidence and the announcement today will only dent it further.

“The industry is struggling to survive and operators will question why further restrictions are being focused on our pubs, bars and restaurants,” Mr Wilkinson added: “With only 4.6% of outbreaks in England related to hospitality venues and with one in 10 pubs in England already operating with some form of curfew, the ‘R’ rate is still increasing – many will fail to understand why these new restrictions for the industry are being introduced.

“The SLTA has asked the Scottish Government to provide information on the ‘R’ rate stemming from the Scottish pub, bar and restaurant sector.”

Mr Wilkinson continued: “The First Minister stated that a high proportion of transmissions and infections stem from household gatherings. The SLTA and industry recognises the need to support the Government and manage the risk of increasing infection rates, but we are concerned that the curtailing of opening hours of our pubs and bars will only lead to increased non-compliance in other areas such as households, an area which the First Minister identified as a key driver.

“It must surely be safer to be in the heavily regulated and controlled environment of our pubs, bars and restaurants.

“With these further restrictions coming into place, the UK and Scottish Governments must now act by providing a sector-specific comprehensive package of support for those most in need to ensure the survival of all sub-sectors of the licensed trade industry.”