Mike Grieve, NTIA Scotland Chair and SubClub Managing Director:”Yet again Scotland’s hospitality and nightlife industry is going to bear the brunt of new restrictions whilst there is still a dearth of support available to protect businesses and the tens of thousands of jobs they provide. The £40m announced today whilst of course welcome, won’t scratch the surface of the financial damage incurred by Scottish Hospitality businesses over the next 3 weekends. These jobs are vital, particularly to our young people, but now our country’s 5th largest economic driver is expected to simply shut up shop.
Across Scotland our Pubs and Restaurants have invested heavily to create Covid safe environments, undertaking detailed risk assessments and adhering to the stringent health and safety measures already imposed, even implementing the nonsensical total ban on background music, in order to find innovative ways to keep businesses alive and support the predominantly young workforce in employment.
Having made these investments largely at government behest, these businesses are once again expected to rip up their operational and business plans and immediately pivot to a new set of restrictions which once again appear to have no clear scientific validation. Up till now, no statistics have been made available in Scotland to demonstrate why our industry is being singled out, and those being reported today appear to be at best subjective. On the basis of the statistics reported by Public Health England, it is clear that transmission rates in hospitality settings remain at no more than 3% of the total. The reason these figures are so low is precisely because our industry has behaved responsibly and has invested in Covid safety and training. It is also abundantly clear that these new measures will lead to more alcohol consumption and consequently unregulated social gatherings in domestic and other settings.
Despite all this there has been no meaningful sector specific financial support. In the case of our late-night venues, many of which have worldwide reputations for their creative output, those have now been closed for 7 months with virtually no ongoing support and apparently are now considered completely expendable. Operators, creatives, technical staff, managers, security and bar staff have insultingly been advised by UK Government ministers to ‘find new jobs’ or retrain. This indifference towards people, many of whom have invested their whole lives and everything they own in their businesses, is grossly insulting, and the waste of creative talent is mind-blowing.
We again call on Scottish Government to address the urgent issues facing our industry and at the very least repurpose existing budgets to help a whole industry which is literally at the point of collapse.’