Rule of six ‘will have devastating impact on hospitality’

The Scottish Hospitality Group has warned the sector is already 'on life support' with 90,000 jobs at risk.

Rule of six ‘will have devastating impact on hospitality’ Getty Images
Industry body: Pubs and restaurants 'already on life support'.

The rule of six will have a “devastating” impact on pubs and restaurants, an industry body has warned.

The Scottish Hospitality Group (SHG) said the sector was on “life support” and warned that up to 90,000 jobs could be lost if a crash like the 2008 financial crisis happened.

Under the new restrictions, which came into force legally on Monday, only six people from two households can meet.

Previously up to eight people from three households could meet indoors, while outside as many as 15 people from five households had been allowed to gather.

Hotelier Stephen Montgomery, spokesman for SHG, said the sector understood the public health reasons for the rule of six, but they were a blow for the industry.

He said: “The rule of six is devastating for us.

“Personally, I’m 24.6% down this weekend on the previous weekend before it came in and across the group it’s 25-30% comparing this weekend to the previous one.

“We are already running at 55-60% capacity compared to pre-Covid so if you add that together it’s having a major effect on us.”

Mr Montgomery continued: “The two household thing is the big one.

“We are used to the three households over eight people but now with the flick of a switch it’s six people over two households and the age limit of 12 and under has not really helped.”

Children under the age of 12 do not count towards the limit of six people.

The hotelier added: “We as a sector totally get that health has to come before profit, we understand that and we are doing every single thing we are being asked to do.

“But we need to make sure government listens to us.”

SHG represents restaurant and bar businesses which collectively employ almost 6000 staff and its members include Di Maggio’s, G1 Group and Signature Pubs.

Mr Montgomery is calling on the UK Government to consider continuing the furlough scheme with a sector-specific furlough for hospitality, and to continue the reduced rate of 5% VAT for hospitality past its current expiry date of January.

He warned: “There are going to be a lot casualties in the sector.

“Many small operators have only got one or two places and their life savings are put into this and they stand at the brink of disaster at the moment.

“We are living on a life support machine – one more thing could just flick that switch and that’s it and to keep that life support going you need to keep feeding it.”

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said she was forced to bring in the new restrictions to guard against the further spread of the disease.

The UK and Scottish governments have been asked for comment.