Pubs and restaurants ‘need to stay open until 10pm’

Industry body warns the businesses won't survive Christmas without a rule change in levels two and three.

Pubs and restaurants ‘need to stay open until 10pm’ Getty Images

Pubs and restaurants will not survive Christmas unless they are allowed to stay open until 10pm, according to an industry body.

The Scottish Hospitality Group (SHG), which represents businesses including The DRG Group, Signature Pubs and G1 Group, has urged the Scottish Government to change rules in levels two and three of the coronavirus restrictions.

It has also demanded the Scottish Government publishes the scientific evidence behind its decision-making.

Hospitality venues in level three must close at 6pm and are not allowed to sell alcohol, while in level two closing time is 8pm indoors – where no alcohol can be sold – and 10.30pm outdoors for food and drinks.

Angus, Fife and Perth and Kinross will join the central belt, Dundee and Ayrshire in level three from Friday after the tiers were revised on Tuesday.

Stephen Montgomery, spokesman for the SHG, said: “Remaining in the current tiers, or even worse moving up a tier, is a sucker punch for hard-working hospitality staff who face losing their jobs.

“The Government asked us for refinements to the current restrictions that would protect the public and allow us to trade viably.

“We provided those recommendations but they were completely ignored.”

The SHG said by extending opening times to 10pm businesses could “operate a full dinner service and bring in enough money to cover fixed costs such as rent, furlough contributions, and staff pension payments”.

Nic Wood, director of the Signature Pub Group, said: “The more viable we can be then the less of a burden we will be on the country and we will still provide safe places for people to socialise.

“Were it not for furlough, 75,000 people in the central belt would have lost their jobs this week.

“But the businesses that employ these people still need support to cover the furlough contribution and fixed costs.”

He added: “The Scottish Government must sit up and listen to what industry is saying to them or the majority of hospitality businesses, particularly the small, independent operators without deep pockets, will not be here past Christmas.

“Just tweaking the guidance slightly will save thousands of jobs and save the taxpayer millions while still giving the public a safe place to meet friends and family.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “We fully understand the challenges facing the hospitality sector as we look to balance measures to suppress the virus and protect lives with keeping businesses open and trading viably.

“No-one wants the restrictions in place a moment longer than necessary but the evidence shows that the virus is transmitted between households, particularly in environments with close contact at less than two metres and where ventilation is poorer.

“It is therefore essential at present to reduce the amount of time people spend in these settings, including hospitality, while still allowing some economic activity.

“We believe the current time restrictions for hospitality at levels two and three are the correct balance but we will continue to build on our constructive dialogue with the industry and listen to their concerns as we move into the new levels framework.”

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