Policy demand

SHG says ministers ‘know guidance is not working’

Stephen Montgomery: hospitality is suffocating

Hospitality operators are calling for the Scottish Government to end restrictions immediately, claiming that its own evidence paper accepts that they are driving people to socialise at home. 

Stephen Montgomery, spokesperson for the Scottish Hospitality Group, also accused the authorities of failing to deliver on promised grants to support struggling businesses.

“The current restrictions on hospitality are indefensible,” he said. “Even the Scottish Government has identified that they are completely pointless and driving people to socialise at home, which is an uncontrolled environment.

“Meanwhile, thousands of businesses still wait for financial support, despite being promised a lifeline over six weeks ago by the First Minister.”

Mr Montgomery said that a “huge number” of these businesses are still not able to access the government’s isolation grants. 

“Scottish hospitality is still suffocating under a stranglehold of restrictions,” he said. “It seems that the Scottish Government is more concerned about scoring points over the UK Government rather than protecting businesses and jobs at a time when bars and restaurants in other parts of the UK are open for business and receiving support.” 

Last year, the Scottish Government announced that £100 million of support would be made available to the hospitality sector at the start of December, which was reduced to £66 million just weeks later.

“The majority of hospitality businesses we have spoken to have not received a penny,” said Mr Montgomery. “While a third of hospitality and tourism businesses face collapse, we know that many councils haven’t even sent applications out.

“It’s incredible that yet again, hospitality is the last sector to open. For almost two years the government has been slapping restrictions on our industry, which have ultimately destroyed businesses across the country, and are based on no scientific evidence.” 

As Covid numbers fall, the SHG is calling for restrictions to be lifted now and claim that 24 January will be too late for many operators.

“We are facing a catastrophic future that will impact thousands of jobs,” said Mr Montgomery. We ask that the Scottish Government concentrates on working collaboratively with industry to protect our long-term economy, which will be essential to providing employment opportunities post-pandemic.” 

The Scottish government will update on its guidance tomorrow.

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