Harsh Restrictions Will Wipe Out Scottish Hospitality Businesses

Hospitality sector survey highlights lack of viability in levels 3 and 4

Scotland’s pub and hospitality businesses fear for their futures due to the severity of restrictions in levels three and four of the Government’s local protection levels, according to new figures.

Statistics published today by UKHospitality Scotland, the Scottish Beer and Pub Association and the British Institute of Innkeeping highlight the existential threat to businesses posed by increased restrictions.

According to a joint survey, around 95% of businesses estimated they would be trading at a loss or unviable if placed in level three or four. From this Friday 21 out of 32 local areas in Scotland will be in these tiers.

The trade bodies are calling on the Scottish Government to rethink restrictions which are likely to permanently damage businesses and result in the loss of jobs, and have reiterated the urgent need for enhanced financial support to get through this critical period.

In a joint statement, the trade bodies said: “The results of the survey make for pretty miserable reading. What is most alarming is the total lack of sustainability of businesses placed in levels three or four.

“Lighter restrictions, as in levels zero and one, allow some businesses to break even or even turn a profit. The higher protection levels look increasingly like a death sentence for businesses, though. They are unlikely to survive.

“Hospitality businesses in Scotland, like those in the rest of the UK, have had a terrible year. Those that are still operating have survived a crisis against almost impossible odds. For those in the more restrictive levels, those odds now look insurmountable. This is despite the fact that cases linked to hospitality are tiny, and businesses have worked extremely hard to make venues safe.

“The Scottish Government must rethink the restrictions being placed on the sector, otherwise this will be fatal for many vital businesses. This must go hand-in-hand with enhanced financial support that goes way beyond what is currently on offer.”

CAMRA Scotland’s Director Joe Crawford said:“Pubs in all tiers across the country have been feeling the devastating effects of restrictions on their businesses. Being moved up to Tier 4 will be a devastating blow for pubs in these 11 council areas.

“Many publicans are understandably worried about how and when these restrictions will end and whether they will be able to survive the tough weeks and months ahead.

“We urgently need a long-term, sector- specific support package to help our locals – and the breweries that serve them – survive the winter.

“Lockdowns and restrictions across all tiers has decimated trade and knocked long-term consumer confidence in pubs as a safe, Covid-secure place to meet. Entering the highest tier is putting more local pubs in an untenable position to make it through this crisis. Simply put, without greater financial support, we risk seeing hundreds of Scottish pubs and breweries close their doors for good.”