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Letter sent to government

Hospitality groups launch legal action over restrictions

Bar Brig - Leith

Pubs say they are at fighting for survival

Five of Scotland’s Hospitality Industry bodies are taking legal action against the Scottish government’s restrictions on the licensed trade.

The Scottish Government was served with the pre-action letter yesterday morning after the trade bodies received legal opinion from Aidan O’Neill QC.

Ministers have until 4pm on 28 October to respond or they could face a Petition for Judicial Review.

The action is being taken by the Scottish Beer & Pub Association, Scottish Licensed Trade Association, UKHospitality (Scotland), Scottish Hospitality Group and the Night Time Industries Association Scotland.

They say they are acting to save businesses of all sizes that are under “intense pressure” and are fighting for survival.

In a Joint Statement the group’s spokesperson, Paul Waterson, said: “It is with regret that we now commence with this first stage in the legal process.

“We understand and entirely support the goal of suppressing the virus, but our sector is at breaking-point.

“Despite having more mitigation measures than other sectors and the vast majority of operators going above-and-beyond in ensuring customer safety, our sector has been repeatedly targeted without consultation and without the evidence.

The hospitality industry has been held up as the sacrificial lamb

– joint statement

“Anecdotal evidence is not the way to go about making government decisions and the sector should not be used as a balance to uncontrollable risks in other far less regulated and un-monitored sectors.

“Evidence just published in Northern Ireland clearly states that the closure of hospitality only has an “0.1-0.2 impact on the R number” and that the lockdown there has been brought about to ensure behavioural and policy compliance in other areas. Effectively confirming that the hospitality industry has been held up as the sacrificial lamb.

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“The economic support offered to premises doesn’t come close to compensating the businesses and means jobs are being lost and livelihoods ruined. Any measures must be proportionate and be backed up by evidence. We do not believe that is the case here.

“The industry simply cannot endure the extension of the current restriction, further restrictive measures expected from the 2nd of November or get into a stop start situation. We are facing the end of our industry as we know it.

“The battle is now on to save the hospitality sector.”

Further, the letter calls on the Scottish Government to provide statements of reasons behind the Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Restrictions and Requirements) (Additional Temporary Measures) (Scotland) Regulations 2020 and the Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Restrictions and Requirements) (Scotland) Regulations 2020.

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