SLTA Welcomes Easing of Measures but Expresses Concern Over Covid Passports Uncertainty

The SLTA (Scottish Licensed Trade Association) has welcomed today’s announcement by the First Minister that the coronavirus restrictions introduced in response to the Omicron wave will end on Monday.

However, the SLTA expressed concern over the continuing rules surrounding nightclubs as well as the threat of extending the Covid certification scheme to the wider hospitality industry that “is still hanging over businesses”.

Colin Wilkinson, SLTA managing director, said: “We are delighted that businesses can now look forward to the removal of one-metre physical distancing measures along with table service no longer being required although we would have preferred the lifting of these measures with immediate effect.

“The First Minister said that the Scottish Government had reached a difficult decision in deciding not to extend Covid passport certification beyond nightclubs to other parts of the hospitality sector – to all pubs, bars and restaurants – but we remain concerned that this option is still on the table.”

Expressing concern about the existing restrictions affecting nightclubs and the “reasonably minor change” announced today to the Covid certification regulations that have seen some premises avoid certification by placing tables on their dancefloor, Mr Wilkinson said: “This could have a huge impact on ‘hybrid’ premises.

“Large numbers of pubs that wouldn’t normally have any need to employ door staff could now have to do so, leading to increased staffing and running costs at a time when they can ill afford it. We eagerly await clarification on what the ‘reasonably minor change’ will be.”

Mr Wilkinson also said that the First Minister appeared to be “dragging her heels” on the Government’s new strategic framework on dealing with Covid that she first mentioned two weeks ago.

“Where are the details,” he asked. “Why are we still waiting? We need urgent clarity on this now, not next month. It is encouraging that Ms Sturgeon alluded to the fact the Government will be engaging with businesses about a return to a more hybrid approach from the start of February but with every day that passes, the more difficult it becomes for businesses to start planning for the future.”