Scottish Licensed Trade Hails FM’s Announcement As ‘The News We’ve Been Waiting For’

TODAY’S announcement by the First Minister that Scotland will go beyond Level 0 coronavirus restrictions from Monday “is the news we’ve been waiting for”, says the Scottish Licensed Trade Association (SLTA).

Colin Wilkinson, SLTA managing director, said: “This is the best news the licensed hospitality industry has had for over a year – it’s the news we’ve been waiting for and I’m sure there will be a few champagne corks popping to celebrate, at long last, a return to near normal trading.

“We are particularly relieved that physical distancing restrictions can be dropped as the one-metre rule made trading very difficult for some premises, particularly smaller ones – premises can now get back to operating at maximum capacity.

“However, while we understand why the Scottish Government wants to keep some mitigation measures in place, including the mandatory wearing of face coverings in some public spaces and a need for hospitality and indoor venues to continue to collect customer’s contact details, we hope that this is a short-term requirement.

“We are also relieved that those identified as close contacts of someone who has tested positive for Covid-19 will no longer be automatically required to self-isolate for 10 – many businesses have been forced to close temporarily while staff self-isolate and this has been a big, big problem for our industry.”

News that night-time industry can reopen will “come as a relief” for operators who have been unable to trade since March 2020. “All sectors of the licensed hospitality industry have suffered but nightclubs and late-night operators have been in particularly dire straits so today’s news really does come as a relief,” said Mr Wilkinson.

Changes to self-isolation requirements are also welcomed as this is a major ongoing problem for the sector, Mr Wilkinson noted.

He added that he would be seeking clarification on a of number issues that SLTA members have already been asking. “Since today’s announcement the phone has been ringing with operators asking if customers can stand and drink at the bar, for example, and I hope to get clarification on this and more of the final detail by tomorrow at the latest when SLTA and other industry groups will meet with the Scottish Government.

Mr Wilkinson also reiterated the SLTA’s previous calls for further financial aid to ensure the survival of the licensed hospitality industry as it plays its part in rebuilding the economy with an extension to the current support schemes available.