Lack of progress shows ‘hospitality not the cause’, says SHG

Negative or slow trends in the battle against coronavirus are proving that Scotland’s pubs, restaurants and hotels are not the cause of the problem, according to the Scottish Hospitality Group.

The hospitality group, which represents businesses including The DRG Group, Signature Pubs and G1 Group, made the comments following Nicola Sturgeon’s announcement that 11 areas of the country were going to move into its Tier 4 category.

Stephen Montgomery, group spokesperson, said that since most hospitality businesses are either “shut or virtually empty”, how can they “possibly be responsible for the spread of the virus”. As such the hospitality group added that it agrees with the assertion from Professor Leitch that household transmission is in fact “the biggest issue”.

The group is now calling for licensing hours for off-sales and hospitality to be aligned from 10am – 10pm in Tier 2. It also says that businesses in Tier 4 must have certainty as soon as possible before 11 December so they can prepare to “salvage Christmas and Hogmanay as much as they can”.

Montgomery said: “If alcohol was really that much of an issue then off-sales would have been restricted, but instead people are allowed to make spur-of-the-moment purchases to socialise with friends or family at home.

“Not only do homes lack the safety measures that we have in our businesses, for example the legal trace and protect system, but there’s no visibility of the problem for the government and people are never going to self-report that they’ve been breaking the rules.”

He added: “There’s no evidence-based argument for allowing off-sales until 10pm while we are prevented from serving a glass of wine with food up until 10pm in tier 2. And since the argument seems to be that alcohol isn’t that much of a factor, we should be able to serve food and soft drinks until 10pm without alcohol in Tier 3.”

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