Hospitality groups urge Scottish gov to reopen sector early

Hospitality trade groups, including the Scottish Licensed Trade Association (SLTA), are calling on the Scottish government to “consider loosening” lockdown restrictions affecting the industry.

Currently, Scotland’s bars, restaurants and cafés will not be allowed to reopen indoors and outdoors until the 26 April, weeks after the sector’s reopening in England.

However, Scottish hospitality will not be able to serve alcohol indoors or stay open until 10.30pm until 17 May.

Colin Wilkinson, SLTA’s managing director, said: “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.

“Even many businesses with suitable facilities to serve people customers outdoors have 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: “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.”

Speaking to BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland, Stephen Montgomery, spokesperson for the Scottish Hospitality Group (SHG), said: “We’re going to be seeing people jump the border… for that long awaited pint of cold beer while we still remain closed.

“Scotland’s always been behind in the way we’ve been operating for the last year. So it’s going to be no different this time. We are at a disadvantage.”

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