Government urged to change levels system ‘to save jobs’

Five industry organisations have submitted changes to the levels system which they said would save 68,000 jobs.

Government urged to change levels system ‘to save jobs’ PA Media
Trade bodies have submitted proposed changes to the levels system.

Hospitality bodies in Scotland have joined together to call on the Scottish Government to reform the coronavirus level restrictions to help save businesses.

Five industry organisations have submitted changes to the level system which they said would save 68,000 jobs and contribute more than £1.2bn to the economy.

The trade bodies – the Scottish Hospitality Group, UK Hospitality Scotland, the Scottish Licensed Trade Association, the Night Time Industries Association and the Scottish Beer and Pub Association – said the changes proposed would ensure strict measures to prevent Covid-19 spreading remain in place.

They call on ministers to mirror reopening plans in England, with no curfews or need to order alcohol with a meal.

If this does not happen they want the levels system to be overhauled.

Economic analysis commissioned by drinks giant Diageo suggests that under the current Level 3 restrictions for hospitality – a 6pm curfew and no alcohol sales – 54% of business could operate.

The industry bodies’ revamped restrictions for Level 3 include enabling alcohol sales outdoors and with meals indoors, with stays limited to two hours and a 10.30pm closing time indoors, rising to 11.30pm outdoors.

This would enable 73% of business to operate, the analysis indicates.

They also proposed changes to Level 2 which the study said would enable 91% of businesses to operate, instead of the 73% under the current level system.

Emma McClarkin, Scottish Beer and Pub Association chief executive, said: “Our hope is that Scotland will follow close to the unlocking plans in England, which would help ensure our businesses are not at a competitive disadvantage.

“However, should the Scottish Government remain wedded to a regional levels approach then our joint plan would see an additional £658m in turnover and support an extra 31,400 jobs in Level 3 compared to the current system.

“Government must listen to the industry and give the thousands of operators a glimmer of hope.”

Stephen Montgomery, group spokesman for the Scottish Hospitality Group, said it hopes the research gives the Scottish Government a “push to re-address the current levels system which has unfairly targeted our industry since last year”.

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “No-one wants lockdown restrictions in place for a moment longer than necessary and we are engaging with businesses and organisations from across the tourism and hospitality industries on a range of issues, including on the gradual easing of measures.

“It is necessary to be cautious and careful in our approach at this time and to prioritise education in the first instance.

“We will provide a firmer indicative timetable for reopening the economy, including shops, hospitality, hairdressers, gyms and parts of our tourism sector this week.”