The SLTA (Scottish Licensed Trade Association) has expressed disappointment and ‘growing frustration’ that there will be no firm decision from the Scottish Government on removing the current restrictions on table service and one-metre physical distancing between groups of customers in premises serving alcohol until next week.
Colin Wilkinson, SLTA managing director, commented: “It is encouraging that some restrictions are being lifted from Monday but the constant messaging from the First Minister to work from home where possible and limit contact with people is doing nothing to build consumer confidence and leading to growing frustration among business owners.
“That the licensed hospitality sector has to wait until next week to find out if existing restrictions will be lifted from January 24 is unacceptable as it leaves business in limbo. Of course, we appreciated that the Scottish Government has to consider the health of the nation as well as the economy but more clarity is required.
“Last week, the First Minister alluded to the Scottish Government’s new strategic framework on dealing with Covid which will be published in the coming weeks – she said exactly the same today so our question is: when will this be published because we need answers now.”
Mr Wilkinson added the hospitality sector was also concerned about the possible extension of the vaccine passport scheme. “If the passport scheme is extended to hospitality settings it will have a major negative impact on businesses,” he said.
“Many sports fans will want to watch football and the forthcoming Six Nations tournament in the pub,” he added. “If our pubs, bars and restaurants are still required to have social distancing and table/seated service for some time yet, this will obviously affect the capacity numbers for these premises and spoil the atmosphere usually associated with major sporting events being enjoyed in licensed premises.”