Hospitality sector ‘remains in limbo’ amid Covid restrictions

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Scottish hospitality executives have expressed disappointment and frustration that the Scottish government has yet to take a firm decision on removing current restrictions on table service and the one-meter physical distance between groups of customers in premises serving alcohol.

Yesterday’s statement from the Prime Minister only went so far as to lift pre-Christmas restrictions on allowing fans to attend major events.

Scottish Licensed Trade Association Managing Director Colin Wilkinson commented: “It is encouraging that some restrictions are lifted from Monday, but the constant message to work from home where possible and limit contact with people does nothing to build consumer confidence and leads to growing frustration. among business leaders.

“That the licensed hospitality industry has to wait until next week to find out whether existing restrictions will be lifted from January 24 is unacceptable as it leaves business in limbo. ”

Wilkinson added that the hospitality industry was also concerned about the possible expansion of the vaccination passport program.

“Many sports fans will want to watch football and the upcoming Six Nations tournament in the pub,” he added. “If our pubs, bars and restaurants are still required to have social distancing and table / sit-down service for a while, this will obviously affect the capacity count of these premises and spoil the atmosphere usually associated with large events. sports taking place in licensed premises. . ”

Nicola Sturgeon explained yesterday that the Covid certification program will remain in place for previously covered events and locations, but with two changes:

  • First, Scottish Government guidelines will now state that organizers of large events of 1,000 people or more should check the certification status of at least 50% of participants, rather than the current 20%, or at least 1,000 people – whichever is greater.
  • Second, from Monday, the requirement to be “fully vaccinated” for the purposes of Covid certification will include having a booster if the second dose took place more than four months ago.

She added that as protective measures are lifted, “it will be necessary to ask again whether extending the scope of Covid certification to other places might be necessary protection,” adding that ” it is something that we feel we have to consider in a proper way. “

UKHospitality Scotland Executive Director Leon Thompson responded: “Any positivity that could be drawn from possible changes on the near horizon has been dashed by further discussions about vaccine passports and possible wider application.”

A statement from the Night Time Industries Association Scotland called Sturgeon’s suggested extension of the vaccine passport program to additional parameters “of great concern”, arguing that additional restrictions in Scotland have had little impact on case rates , but have had a serious impact on Scottish businesses and jobs. . “

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Andrew McRae, Scottish Policy Chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, said: ‘Ministers need to remember that Covid rules impose a disproportionate burden on small operators, especially as they consider the role of vaccine passports .

‘Lifting the toughest rules does not mean the Scottish small business community will regain its full strength overnight – indeed, the trade lost at Christmas and the debt accumulated by businesses during the duration of the pandemic will mean tough business decisions for weeks and months to come.

CBI Scotland Director Tracy Black added: “Progress must now be made quickly to remove remaining restrictions, including the legal requirement to work from home, which is undoubtedly hurting city centers, in particular to hospitality. “

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