UKHospitality Welcomes Scotland’s Easing Of Restrictions, But Warns Of “Tough Times Ahead”

The legal requirement for physical distancing and limits on gatherings will be removed on 9 August when all venues across Scotland are able to re-open.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said:“The move beyond level 0 will entail the lifting of most of the remaining legally imposed restrictions – most notably, on physical distancing and limits to the size of social gatherings. It also means that from 9 August, no venues will be legally required to close.

“This change is significant and it is hard-earned. The sacrifices everyone has made over the past year and a half can never be overstated. However, while this move will restore a substantial degree of normality, it is important to be clear that it does not signal the end of the pandemic or a return to life exactly as we knew it before Covid struck.

“Declaring freedom from, or victory over, this virus is in my view premature. The harm the virus can do, including through the impact of long Covid, should not be underestimated. And its ability to mutate may yet pose us real challenges.”

Responding to the First Minister’s announcement on the move beyond level 0, UKHospitality Scotland Executive Director Leon Thompson said “Today marks a hugely important moment for hospitality businesses across Scotland. Some of our businesses can, at long last, reopen their doors and welcome back customers. Many more can begin to look at increasing capacity with the end of physical distancing.

“However, it is not clear yet how the mandatory wearing of face coverings might continue to impact on venues where customers are likely to be standing, including in pubs and nightclubs. Businesses need more detail, along with a complete set of guidance from the Scottish Government – and they need it quickly.

“The First Minister’s announcement also provided some sobering analysis of future steps the Scottish Government may take if necessary. UKHospitality Scotland is calling on the Scottish Government to continue to engage with the sector on issues like proposals for a vaccine passport. Similarly, the Scottish Government needs to work with us to identify ways to build the resilience of the sector. After almost 18 months of closure and restricted opening, businesses are carrying unprecedented amounts of short-term debt – much of it due for payment now. After coming this far these viable businesses must not be allowed to fall at the last hurdle.

“Hospitality businesses are already demonstrating they are catalysts for economic recovery in every part of the country, but to keep doing this they need ongoing backing and support from the Scottish Government, as well as UK-wide measures on reserved matters, such as a permanently lower rate of VAT.”