Retail and tourism groups welcome target opening dates

Businesses have welcomed plans to ease lockdown restrictions in July.

Retail and tourism groups have welcomed the target opening dates announced by the First Minister for businesses in Scotland.

In a statement in the Scottish Parliament, Nicola Sturgeon revealed an updated route map, which details the path out of lockdown.

The First Minister announced pubs, restaurants, hairdressers and shopping centres can reopen on July 15, if the suppression of the virus continues in Scotland, as well as the opening of outdoor seating in hospitality businesses from July 6.

Hairdresser Julie Sangster, from Riah Hair in Banchory, said: “I was so relieved, delighted and excited. Still a wee bit of concern there, because obviously the paramount thing is to make everybody safe, the people that come to the salon and the staff. 

“It’s obviously a massive relief and great, great positive feeling to think that we can actually open now. 

“We don’t have the exact concrete guidelines yet, but we are perhaps looking at wearing visors or masks. Again it’s not quite clear, but we have things in place that we are ready if we need to.”

For Paul Demarco from Edinburgh’s Corn Exchange, the news has been welcomed, but he has concerns about how smaller businesses will cope. 

“I think for us as a business is that we have space and it is really easy for us to operate under those guidelines.

“If the spaces are smaller it’s going to be almost impossible for smaller businesses to operate. 

“We’re really confident, we’re used to running events for up to 3000 people, we have the facilities internally and externally to cope with large amounts of people and we have the expertise and the knowledge within management and the staffing team here that we can manage crowds no problem. 

“Our capacity for the beer garden would be at a maximum 300 and were used to working with numbers of 3000. So from our point of view we are more than ready. 

“For smaller businesses, they’re going to find two metre social distancing and guidelines with toilets and other provisions businesses have to provide extremely difficult.”

The Scottish Licensed Trade Association (SLTA) hailed the “much-needed good news” on beer gardens and pubs reopening but stressed many firms in the sector will not survive with two-metre social distancing in place.

The First Minister has sought fresh advice for her scientific advisory group on if the distance could be reduced, set to be reviewed on July 2.

But for now, the Scottish Government says the evidence shows two metres has to remain in place, even while it will be reduced to “one metre plus” in England.

SLTA spokesman Paul Waterson said: “Today’s announcement is clearly much-needed good news for pubs but many operators desperately need the two-metre social distancing parameter reduced if they are to be viable.

“That pubs and restaurants can open indoors from July 15, albeit on a limited basis initially and subject to a number of conditions, is also to be welcomed and we look forward to viewing the detailed guidance when it becomes available.

“The First Minister also said today that businesses in the hospitality sector will be required to take names and contact details of customers, and store them for four weeks – we accept that this is both responsible and necessary under the circumstances.”

Outdoor shops were previously given the go-ahead to open on June 29 by the Scottish Government.

‘This will also enable stores to bring colleagues back from furlough, train staff and put suppliers on a state of readiness.’

David Lonsdale, Scottish Retail Consortium

Self-catering accommodation can open on July 3, along with an easing of the restriction on how far people are permitted to travel for recreation.

David Lonsdale, the director of the Scottish Retail Consortium, said the sector “stands ready to play its part in getting Scotland’s economy moving again”.

He added: “This announcement will provide some much-needed confidence to non-essential stores in indoor shopping centres and malls they can prepare for reopening in the next few weeks.

“Safety is the fundamental concern for all retailers and they have been working hard to put in place the necessary social distancing and hygiene measures to operate safely.

“This a welcome vote of confidence in that effort and preparation.

“This will also enable stores to bring colleagues back from furlough, train staff and put suppliers on a state of readiness.”

Firms in the tourism sector were initially told they would have to wait until July 15 to open up again but Wednesday’s announcement from the First Minister has allowed some parts of the industry to open their doors.

Marc Crothall, the chief executive of the Scottish Tourism Alliance (STA), said the news will bring “great comfort” to business owners.

He added: “This unlocks major components of our tourism sector and offers Scots the opportunity to plan summer experiences closer to home and boost our local economies.

“We are also delighted at the announcement that all accommodation and indoor hospitality can open from July 15, subject to guidance and restrictions, and that our museums and monuments can also reopen from this date.”

The Association of Scottish Self Caterers (ASSC) chief executive Fiona Campbell said she is “delighted” with the announcement.

“Scotland’s self-caterers were among the first to close our businesses as we entered lockdown, at great personal and financial cost, and now we’re poised to be among the first to help the Scottish tourist economy stand back up on its own two feet,” she said.

“With our stringent, robust, and comprehensive cleaning protocols in place, which are backed by the Scottish Government, we can safely and securely open our properties and go back to providing our guests with first-class breaks.”

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