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Level 4 climbdown offers some relief for Scotland

Published:  09 December, 2020

Level 4 restrictions will come to an end for parts of west central Scotland from 6pm on December 11. However, the Scottish Licensed Trade Association (SLTA) has said that there is much left to be done if businesses are to survive ongoing government measures.

The SLTA warns that many of Scotland’s pubs, bars and restaurants still face the threat of permanent closure as a result of Covid-19. This Friday (11 December), more than two million people living under the strictest levels of protection for the past three weeks will have restrictions eased. Overall, half of Scotland’s local authorities will move down a level. This includes the areas of Angus, Inverclyde and Falkirk, which will drop a level from 3 to 2.

However, job losses still hang over the heads of those employed in the sector, even with the current furlough scheme in place.

“While this is a step in the right direction [from Level 4], and it is excellent news that Angus, Falkirk and Inverclyde can move from Level 3 into Level 2, it has not gone far enough to help an industry in crisis,” the SLTA’s managing director Colin Wilkinson, said.

“Many operators even in Levels 2 and 3 areas have already been forced to close down their businesses as it is simply unviable to operate with the current restrictions on the sale of alcohol, capacity levels and the operating times that are currently in place. The Scottish Government needed to lessen these to give some kind of hope for the industry as we head into our fourth winter period in January.”

December is “crucially important” for the industry in any given year, Wilkinson added. Though this year, the period is even more important as operators attempt to “claw back some of the huge financial losses they have incurred in 2020”.

“It is obvious that the licensed hospitality sector is being held up as the sacrificial lamb due to the inability to control the spread of the virus in other sectors and in private homes. The Scottish Government must therefore provide proper financial compensation before it’s too late,” he said.