The latest Covid-19 restrictions are a disaster for the hospitality industry, it says.
Under the new curbs, all pubs and restaurants across central Scotland are to be closed for more than a fortnight under new measures aimed at tackling a surge in officially recorded coronavirus cases which are now at records levels. The new rules will apply to licensed premises ain five ealth authority areas across the Central Belt, including Glasgow and Edinburgh.
Pubs and restaurants will be able to open in other parts of Scotland - but with limits on hours and they can only serve alcohol outdoors.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the restrictions were "intended to be short, sharp action to arrest a worrying increase in infection".
But she admitted that they would be disruptive to many businesses and would be unwelcome to many people.
UKHospitality Executive Director for Scotland Willie Macleod said: “This is a total catastrophe. Scottish hospitality is already on the brink and is unable to look ahead with any degree of confidence.
“Forced closures will spell the end for many, many venues which have no cash flow and will have exhausted their reserves. Severe restrictions to those businesses not forced to close will amount to a closure for many. It is likely to be the final straw for many that were only just hanging on. We are going to see businesses fold and many jobs lost.
“The First Minister stated that hospitality was by far the most impacted of sectors and we now need urgent confirmation of the details of the support package and how it will be applied. Without detail, it looks as though the £40m announced by the First Minister will not nearly be sufficient to support the sector. Any support to underwrite furlough will have to go far beyond the Job Support Scheme, which seems unlikely to be taken up by many hospitality businesses.
“We also need a route map for those businesses in the five health board areas across the Central Belt forced to close. We must have a clear plan for their reopening. We cannot afford to be left in limbo.
"It will just mean businesses unable to plan, employees worried for their jobs, consumer confidence shattered and businesses all the more likely to fail. The Government has to move quickly to save businesses and keep jobs alive.”
The Federation for Small Business's Highlands & Islands Development Manager, David Richardson, said: “While the restrictions have fallen more heavily on the Central Belt, hospitality businesses across the Highlands & Islands will be dismayed at today’s announcement.
"With some three months’ trading under their belts since unlocking, squeezing every last penny out of the season has been of paramount importance to their long-term viability, and now they are seeing what for many will be the premature ending of the 2020 tourist season. This will have a significant knock-on impact on our tourism sector as a whole, the hospitality supply chain, and on night-time economy operators like taxi drivers and takeaways.
“The £40 million support fund is extremely welcome, but owners must now take major and very urgent decisions about their businesses’ futures, and they need to know where they stand before doing so. FSB Scotland will work closely with the Scottish Government to ensure that individual schemes are devised as quickly as possible, and that the money subsequently reaches those businesses in greatest need, including those indirectly affected by the changes, in the shortest possible time.”
Scottish Land & Estates (SLE), the organisation representing rural businesses and landowners said the new short-term changes to curb the rise in Covid-19 infections could lead to considerable job losses and businesses becoming unviable unless the right support is provide
Following on from today’s announcement of new restrictions taking force nationwide from Friday 09 October, SLE has said that these new restrictions will not just impact the hospitality sector but could also lead to other jobs and businesses throughout rural Scotland becoming unviable as visitor numbers drop significantly.
SLE Chief Executive, Sarah-Jane Laing, said:“These new restrictions are going to cause considerable harm to jobs and businesses throughout rural Scotland. By advising everyone in Scotland’s central belt not to travel, where most of Scotland’s population live, we are going to see a sharp decline in domestic tourism throughout rural Scotland. And for those who can travel, not being able to go out for an evening meal or visit a local bar will be a major factor in holidays being cancelled.
“A support package has been announced for businesses who are going to be forced to close their doors because of these new restrictions, but what isn’t clear is how the Scottish Government will support the numerous other jobs and businesses who rely on rural tourism and will be affected by these changes.
“Without the right support, we could see significant job losses and businesses being closed throughout Scotland, which in turn would cause considerable social and economic harm to rural communities.
“We would like the Scottish Government to commit to supporting all businesses who are impacted by these new short-term restrictions, whether that be directly or indirectly.
“Difficult decisions must be taken in order to protect the population from this pandemic, but as the First Minister said in her speech to Parliament earlier, we must find the right balance to make sure that Scotland can emerge from this crisis with as little harm to our population as possible, both in terms of health and wellbeing and in terms of jobs and our society.”
Highlands and Islands Labour MSP Rhoda Grant said: “Jobs and businesses need to be protected and the Scottish Government needs to make sure that businesses on the edge are not forced over that edge. “This is timed to coincide with the school holidays, yet the Government has not supplied the number of Covid cases associated with schools.
“It seems incredibly unfair that hospitality businesses have invested in making changes to their establishments to fulfil the guidelines which are now rendered useless by these new regulations. It is also strange that Orkney and Shetland, where there are no new cases, are being treated the same as places where there are substantial increases.
“The Scottish Government now need to publish the science so that people can understand the thinking behind these new restrictions in order to ensure compliance.”
Retail trade union USDAW has responded to today’s tightening of the Covid-19 restrictions by the Scottish Government with a call for respect for shop workers. From this weekend, shops across Scotland are to return to 2 metre physical distancing and reintroduce safety measures put in place earlier in the pandemic.
The trades union is reminding customers of the five simple steps to encourage considerate shopping, that were agreed with the Scottish Retail Consortium (SRC) and the Scottish Government, urging the public to play their part in creating a safe and enjoyable retail environment for other customers and retail staff:
- Queue considerately.
- Maintain social distancing.
- Follow instructions inside and outside shops.
- Follow all necessary hygiene measures.
- Be respectful to shop staff.
Tracy Gilbert - Usdaw’s Scottish Deputy Divisional Officer said: “Unfortunately the early part of the Covid-19 crisis saw instances of abuse towards shop workers double and we are absolutely clear that ‘abuse is not part of the job'.
“With infections rising we understand why the Scottish Government wants to return to the original safety guidance for shops, that we developed with the SRC, to provide staff and customers with a safer shopping experience.
“Customers need to play their part and be patient, observe social distancing and show respect to shop workers. Retail staff are key workers delivering essential services and that role must be valued and respected.”
(Additional reaction to the Scottish Government announcement is being added to this article as time passes.)