THE Scottish Licensed Trade Association (SLTA) has expressed disappointment that Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire and East Lothian will move up to tier three from Friday, joining the 18 local authorities currently remaining at that level.
“We are bitterly disappointed as we had remained hopeful that any relaxation of Covid-19 restrictions in relation to the licensed hospitality trade at this time would have given businesses a fighting chance to trade more viably in the last week before Christmas,” said Colin Wilkinson, SLTA managing director.
“Even a further relaxation of the rules, allowing pubs and restaurants to trade later in all tiers and allowing alcohol with a main meal and giving the opportunity of two sittings in the evening, would have helped these businesses enormously during a key trading period.
“The wider issue, however, has been the uncertainty of it as has been the norm for several months – it’s hugely unfair on businesses to expect them to switch on and off like a tap. It’s not just a case of opening the doors – premises have to order supplies and organise staff rotas. Many have already taken the decision to remain closed until 2021 because of this uncertainty.”
Wilkinson warned again that many of Scotland’s pubs, bars and restaurants still face the threat of permanent closure and the risk of job losses still hangs over the heads of those employed in “an industry in crisis”, even with the current furlough scheme which is in place.
He said: “Last week, we said that while our industry will continue to do all that it can to supress the virus, it needs financial aid at realistic levels if the sector and the staff it employs are to be here after spring 2021 and be part Scotland’s economic recovery.
“We remain committed to continuing to work with the Scottish Government to find solutions to enable our sector to keep trading.”