Tourism and hospitality chiefs demand talks with Sturgeon on Glasgow rules

·4-min read

Tourism and hospitality bodies are calling for urgent talks with Nicola Sturgeon on Glasgow remaining in Level 3 coronavirus restrictions.

The Scottish Tourism Alliance (STA) and UKHospitality want a half-hour call with the First Minister, warning that Friday’s decision not to move Glasgow to Level 2 restrictions on Monday, as previously planned, has “has thrown a significant part of our industry and indeed the supply chain back into crisis mode”.

Ms Sturgeon announced on Friday afternoon that virus outbreaks in Glasgow and Moray mean they will remain at Level 3, with a review in a week, while the rest of mainland Scotland moved into Level 2 on Monday and many island areas dropped to Level 1.

She also announced a ban on travel in and out of Glasgow or Moray council areas.

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In Level 3, hospitality premises can only serve alcohol outdoors and meals indoors must stop at 8pm.

In a joint letter to Ms Sturgeon, STA chief executive, Marc Crothall, and UKHospitality Scotland executive director, Leon Thompson, said: “While I imagine the decision to keep Glasgow at Level 3 (with additional travel restrictions), amidst the growing prevalence of the so-called Indian strain of the virus will have been a hugely challenging one for government in terms of balancing the public health crisis against the urgent need for businesses within all sectors to be trading as viably as possible, this has thrown a significant part of our industry and, indeed, the supply chain back into crisis mode and the mental health, resilience and commercial viability of the sector are of considerable concern.”

Requesting the urgent call, they said they expect the Scottish Government to acknowledge the current situation and announce further financial support.

In the letter, they highlight a series of issues faced by tourism and hospitality businesses in Glasgow and surrounding areas, including that they had been bringing in staff for the planned reopening on Monday who will no longer be needed, saying the “majority will be new and ineligible for furlough support”.

They said the travel ban has led to “widespread cancellations” for tourism businesses, food and drinks will go to waste and the supply chain has been “left in limbo”.

The letter states the £750 offered by the Scottish Government to support businesses hit by the requirement to remain in Level 3 is not enough and calls for more cash.

It also calls for a timescale for reviews and the criteria behind these decisions.

The letter adds: “Emotions are running very high now within the industry and feelings of resilience and hope are now turning to bitterness and anger which is being directed towards the Scottish Government.”

Signature Pubs owner Nic Wood criticised the late announcement on the changes, saying in talks with the Scottish Government last Wednesday they said Glasgow would enter Level 2 on Monday.

He is unable to reopen two pubs in Glasgow city centre: The Spiritualist on Miller Street and The Raven on Renfield Street, and about 40 staff have been put back on furlough.

He accused the Scottish Government of not listening to businesses and said people were “dumbfounded” by the lack of notice.

“It’s a massive inconvenience and incredibly frustrating,” he said.

“There’s a lack of insight and understanding of the business from the Government. We’re just holding our heads in our hands to be honest.”

Having spent about £6-7,000 gearing up the venues for reopening, he said the £750 is “nothing”.

He added: “It’s a drop in the ocean of what we’ve already spent. It’s not even going to cover the wastage in food.”

Mr Wood fears the extra restrictions in Glasgow could last months, particularly after mass gatherings in the city at the weekend.

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “We understand the extremely difficult situation faced by local businesses as a result of Glasgow remaining in Level 3, and we are doing all we can to mitigate against the impact of the continuing restrictions, which will not stay in place for a moment longer than absolutely necessary.

“As the First Minister has said, when making these decisions a difficult balance has to be struck between giving businesses as much notice as we can and waiting until the latest possible moment so that the public health data we rely on is as up to date as possible.”

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