Marc Crothall, Chief Executive of the Scottish Tourism Alliance said;
“The First Minister’s announcement that bars, pubs and restaurants will close at 10pm from Friday will serve as a significant blow to many hundreds of businesses across Scotland who have worked hard to ensure compliance with government guidance to protect their staff, customers and to offer confidence that all possible measures have been taken to protect these groups.
Sadly, this is likely to be the last straw for many businesses which were only just managing to break even; the impact that this new rule will have on restaurants in particular in terms of restricting a second seating in the evening will result in a substantial loss of revenue, as indeed it will in other areas of hospitality.
I have said throughout this crisis that our industry must continue to do the right thing and comply with every measure imposed on us for the good of all and to bring the virus under control. We welcome the announcement of additional inspection measures and enforcement to identify non-compliance.
The evidence we have seen to date shows that incidences of the virus in hospitality businesses account for only a very small percentage of overall cases and I would therefore be hopeful that the further evidence we will gather in the coming days and weeks will feed into the review of this particular measure.
There will be only one way forward for Scotland’s tourism industry in light of today’s announcement; the immediate survival and future sustainability of the industry is now dependent on a tailored furlough package for the sector, a permanent reduction in VAT to 5% beyond 2021, a business rates holiday until the end of March 2022 for all tourism businesses and a recapitalisation of borrowing – a mechanism for creating business liquidity for businesses which are quite simply running out of cash.
The STA is grateful for the Cabinet Secretary’s support and understanding of the huge challenges being faced currently by our tourism industry which Mr Ewing recognised and acknowledged at the STA Council meeting this morning and we will continue to work closely with the Scottish Government and policy makers over the coming weeks.”