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SLTA: ‘Opening on 26 April unviable for most’

Published:  14 April, 2021

The Scottish Licensed Trade Association (SLTA has reiterated its disappointment that Scotland’s bars, restaurants and cafés will still not be able to serve alcohol indoors until the licensed hospitality industry begins to reopens more freely next month.

While the organisation said it welcomed First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s announcement yesterday to lift restrictions on travelling around Scotland and allowing people to meet up in larger groups outdoors from Friday, it said it would do nothing to help the vast majority of licensed trade businesses.

“We appreciate the baby steps and the continuing need for caution but for most opening on 26 April will simply be unviable and that’s without taking into account the unpredictable Scottish weather,” said MD Colin Wilkinson. 

Many businesses with suitable facilities to serve customers outdoors had decided to wait until 17 May when the industry will be able to open until 10.30pm indoors with alcohol permitted and, for outdoors, until 10pm, he added

Just 22.9% of licensed premises in Scotland have designated outdoors areas, according to SLTA research, with the organisation reckoning it will be unviable for about two-thirds to reopen on 26 April. 

“We are now urging the Scottish government to consider loosening these restrictions to give our industry a fighting chance. England has reopened its hospitality industry so let’s fall into line with our colleagues south of the border.”

Echoing this, Scottish Hospitality Group spokesman Stephen Montgomer added: “This news will be welcomed by many but it doesn’t change anything for the vast majority of hospitality providers. 

“In fact, we’re more confused than ever at a decision that makes no sense. We’ve argued for a sensible relaxing of the alcohol rules for many months now, so it’s ridiculous that this is only being applied to all-day weddings but not other indoor socialising,” he said.