Scottish Hospitality Group, UK Hospitality Scotland, Scottish Licensed Trade Association, Night Time Industries Association and the Scottish Beer and Pub Association have written to the government setting out a “pragmatic approach that will avoid catastrophic business failure across the sector”.
A united set of recommendations from organisations representing Scotland’s hospitality sector have been submitted to the Scottish Government, urging Ministers to mirror the reopening plans for England as closely as possible, with the stripping away of additional restrictions such as a curfew and serving alcohol only with a meal.
The industry proposed level system would save over 60,000 jobs and contribute more than £1.2bn to the economy in the short term by altering the levels in the Strategic Framework, the groups claim.
However, the groups have also suggested a series of small tweaks to the current levels system that would allow the sector to meet both public health and economy objectives as strict Covid measures remain in place.
The groups point to research from Biggar Economics which shows that this proposed pragmatic approach is “essential if the Scottish Government is to avoid catastrophic business failure across the hospitality sector”.
The figures show that under the current Level 3 restrictions, 54% of hospitality businesses could be operating, which generates a turnover of £269m and supports 21,900 jobs. If the government was to open with the proposed Level 3 industry change, 73% of businesses could be operating, generating a turnover of £927m and supporting 53,300 jobs.
The study also found that under the newly proposed Level 2 changes, 91% of businesses could be operating, which would generate a turnover of £1.2bn and support 68,000 jobs. This is compared to current Level 2 restrictions in which only 73% of business could operate, generating a turnover of £634m and supporting only 34,900 jobs.
Willie Macleod, executive director, Scotland for UK Hospitality (UKH) said: “The trade bodies have worked closely to propose workable reopening measures to Scottish Government which would improve the viability prospects of hospitality and licensed businesses which have been among the hardest hit in any sector over the past year. UKH urges the Scottish Government to agree a plan for reopening that will remove any risk of vulnerable businesses failing at the eleventh hour.
“The plan for reopening Scotland’s economy has to acknowledge that hotels, bars and restaurants are still at severe risk and must place the survival of our sector, which will be integral to the economic recovery of the country, at its heart. The report from BiGGAR Economics shows how the reopening of hospitality venues can secure jobs, kick-start the vital supply chain and ensure that public health remains a priority.”
Stephen Montgomery, group spokesperson for the Scottish Hospitality Group, added: “We hope that this latest research will give the Scottish Government the push to re-address the current levels system which has unfairly targeted our industry since last year.
“All of SHG’s members remain committed to rebuilding consumer confidence so that we can begin trading safely in the coming months, and I am confident that these figures will solidify that trust amongst our customers.”