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Hospitality sector urges Scottish government to rescind indoor dining restrictions

Published:  12 January, 2022

Nicola Sturgeon's announcement that the limitations and restrictions on indoor dining would continue until at least 24 January has been widely condemned by interest groups in Scotland.

Made yesterday (January 11), the First Minister confirmed that restaurants, pubs and bars would continue to enforce measures including table-service only and one-metre distancing rules. According to several oversight bodies, the restrictions make profitability impossible for thousands of community pubs and the small independent breweries who supply them.

Colin Wilkinson, managing director of the SLTA (Scottish Licensed Trade Association), commented: “That the licensed hospitality sector has to wait until next week to find out if existing restrictions will be lifted from 24 January is unacceptable as it leaves businesses in limbo. Of course, we appreciated that the Scottish government has to consider the health of the nation as well as the economy but more clarity is required.”

Wilkinson added the hospitality sector was also concerned about the possible extension of the vaccine passport scheme. “If the passport scheme is extended to hospitality settings it will have a major negative impact on businesses,” he said.

Responding to yesterday's announcement from the First Minister, UKHospitality Scotland executive director Leon Thompson, said: “Hospitality businesses needed to hear today that restrictions on them would be removed next week. Instead, whilst people will be able to attend capacity sporting events from Monday, hospitality businesses will remain bound by table service, physical distancing and nightclubs closed.”

She added: “Restrictions, combined with messaging to avoid crowded places and to stay at home as much as possible, torpedoed hospitality’s hopes for a busy festive period. Many businesses were left counting the cost when another opportunity to start their recovery was snatched away. After today’s statement from the First Minister, businesses and their workforce are left to wait a further week to hear when things might change for them.”

The Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA) also responded to the announcement, calling upon the government to provide additional support for ailing businesses.

“With current measures set to remain in place until at least the 24th of January it is now vital the government provide support for struggling small breweries, and reintroduce the Brewers Support Fund which provided a lifeline to businesses last year," said James Calder, SIBA chief executive.