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Scottish hospitality industry threatens legal action against Covid-19 shutdown

by Stuart Wood

Scotland’s hospitality industry has launched legal action against the government’s Covid-19 restrictions, which are stopping them from operating.

The groups combining to take the action are UK Hospitality (Scotland), the Night Time Industries Association Scotland, The Scottish Beer & Pub Association and The Scottish Licensed Trade Association.

Currently, all pubs and restaurants in central Scotland (including Glasgow and Edinburgh) are closed. Hospitality venues in the rest of Scotland are operating to a 6pm curfew.

The group has sent a letter to the Scottish government demanding a response by 4pm next Wednesday, 28 October. If they do not receive a response, matters could move forward with a petition for judicial review.

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.

“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.

“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. facing the end of our industry as we know it.

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

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