Pub curfew is a devastating blow for Scotland’s pub sector

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon's televised address regarding new coronavirus restrictions and curfew

The 10pm closing announcement by the First Minister will mean some pubs will go under, trade body says.

Pub sector bodies and industry groups have slammed the early closure decision which they say will have a devastating on a sector that has worked so hard to provide safe environments.

Colin Wilkinson, managing director of the Scottish Licensed Trade Association said: “Research shows that the industry has spent around £15m on training and implementing social distancing measures across the entire sector to reopen and rebuild consumer confidence.

“For many this will be the final nail in the coffin, particularly for operators in the late night economy and those providing for the younger market for which these measures are effectively a lockdown.

“The recently introduced six person two household rule knocked customer confidence and this announcement will only dent it further.”

The industry is struggling to survive and operators will question why further restrictions are being focused onpubs, bars and restaurants.

With only 4.6% of outbreaks in England related to hospitality venues and with one in ten pubs in England already operating with some form of curfew, yet the “R” rate is still increasing, the SLTA said many will fail to understand why these new restrictions for the industry are being introduced.

The SLTA has asked the Scottish Government to provide information on the “R” rate stemming from the Scottish pub, bar and restaurant sector.

Wilskinson said: “The First Minister stated that a high proportion of transmissions and infections stem from household gatherings.

“The SLTA and industry recognises the need to support the Government and manage the risk of increasing infection rates, but we are concerned that the curtailing of opening hours of our pubs and bars, will only lead to increased non-compliance in other areas such as households, an area which the First Minister identified as a key driver.

“It must surely be safer to be in the heavily regulated and controlled environment of our pubs, bars and restaurants.

“With these further restrictions coming into place, the UK and Scottish Governments must now act by providing a sector-specific comprehensive package of support for those most in need to ensure the survival of all sub-sectors of the licensed trade industry.”

Meanwhile, Scottish wholesalers have called on the Scottish Government for further support for the industry’s supply chain.

Colin Smith, Scottish Wholesale Association chief executive, said: “When hospitality, tourism and leisure businesses closed in March, Scotland’s food service wholesalers lost, on average, 81% of their businesses.

“Unlike hospitality and retail, including major supermarkets making huge profits, local wholesalers were excluded from business rates relief and other financial support and were forgotten about.

“This can’t be allowed to happen again,” he said.

“Sales have gradually risen but wholesalers have faced severe cash flow problems, customer debt, stock waste due to it going out of date, and removal of trade credit from suppliers. Meanwhile, they have continued to serve customers in restaurants, care homes, hospitals, and those shielding in their own homes.”

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