express– The Scottish Licensed Trade Association (SLTA) has said that the re-imposition of table service and social distancing in the hospitality setting could spell the end for many premises. The restrictions are set to severely limit the number of customers that can be served, putting strain on struggling businesses.
There are also fears that the one metre social distancing rule may force nightclubs to close.
In a statement, Colin Wilkinson, managing director of the SLTA, argued that after two tough years for trade these new rules could force some venues out of business.
He said: “The restrictions could well be the knock out blow for many in the battered and bruised licensed hospitality sector in Scotland.”
Research from the Night Time Industries Association has shown that average sales are down 52 percent across the sector in December so far.
There has also been an average loss of income of £56,000 per premise with around 43 percent of bars and clubs saying they could only survive for one month without cash support.
The Scottish Chamber of Commerce (SCC) said the restrictions will be another “hammer blow for employers and Scotland’s economy” and argued the £375 million financial support on offer from Nicola Sturgeon was nowhere near enough.
In a statement the SCC said: “Businesses across Scotland have already lost millions of pounds in trade due to the return of restrictions and the confirmation that yet more restrictions will come into place from Boxing Day will be another hammer blow for employers and Scotland’s economy.
“Businesses across Scotland, who have been doing everything they can to keep their employees and customers safe, will be bitterly disappointed by these further restrictions.
“Some businesses and sectors will view this update as the equivalent of receiving a lump of coal in their Christmas stocking, further compounding the downturn in trade they have experienced in the crucial run up to the festive period.”
Dr Liz Cameron, the SCC’s chief executive, said the restrictions were another blow to businesses that had already lost millions of pounds this year due to covid restrictions.
She said: “January is beginning to look increasingly bleak for businesses and the prospect of an early return to economic growth in the New Year is now clearly at risk.”
James Calder, the chief executive of the Society of Independent Brewers, argued that pubs had made significant efforts to promote Covid safety and that the restrictions would simply move socialising elsewhere.
He said: “Scottish pubs have gone out of their way to make themselves covid secure throughout this pandemic and are often lower risk venues than the inevitable house parties that people will flock to as new restrictions are introduced.”
Andy McRae, the Scotland policy chairman for the Federation of Small Businesses, added that the restrictions would not only limit customers but have a negative impact on local economies.
He said: “The social distancing restrictions will mean shops and hospitality firms can serve fewer customers. And the changes to events, such as sports matches and Hogmanay celebrations, will have a knock-on impact on local economies.”
From 26 December for up to three weeks there will be limits on the size of public events in Scotland.
From 27 December hospitality venues that serve alcohol will only operate a table service, groups of people will be limited to three households and there will be a 1 metre physical distancing rule.