With a week to go before most of west central Scotland comes out of tier four restrictions, the Scottish Licensed Trade Association (SLTA) is demanding that the Scottish Government “step up to the plate” to ensure the survival of the licensed hospitality trade.
SLTA managing director Colin Wilkinson said the Government has “a duty to keep this sector alive, a sector which has had to bear the brunt of heavily over-restrictive measures even before the current tier four restrictions were imposed on a large part of Scotland”.
Mr Wilkinson, pointing out that the licensed hospitality sector has not had “anywhere near the level of aid required to survive and protect the 50,000 jobs which are currently hanging in the balance”, said: “The Scottish Government must step up to the plate. Even with the end of tier four restrictions in sight, the fear is that many parts of the country will still remain in a position where it will be unviable to operate with the restrictions on the sale of alcohol and operating hours in place remaining, even in tier two.
“Recent reports from England show that more than two-thirds of premises will remain closed due to the restrictions put in place since coming out of the one-month lockdown there, reflecting the same figure on premises remaining closed revealed by the SLTA’s survey last month.
“The recent announcement of support for the licensed trade in Wales, including the supply chain, is far more realistic in what is needed by the industry in Scotland where the ongoing closure costs are on average £11,000 per month per premises. Welsh hospitality premises will be getting nearly six times the level of support currently available to their Scottish counterparts.”
Mr Wilkinson added that “time is running out for our industry”. He said: With the threat of a ‘payback’ in January for the five days’ ‘Christmas Amnesty’ which in itself will not save our industry a distinct possibility, the Government needs to increase the financial aid to the licensed hospitality sector now and give consideration to a relaxation of the restrictions on operating hours and alcohol sales.
“Scotland’s licensed hospitality industry is a major tourist attraction with 71% of visitors visiting and experiencing what our pubs and bars have to offer. The only way this sector will be here in 2021/22 to help build back the economy will be for immediate substantial increases in the levels of financial aid.
“Now is the time for UK and Scottish Governments to look at providing support levels similar to, if not improved upon, those made available in April this year.”