Scottish pubs protest against new Covid-19 restrictions

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With the recent lockdown measures being met with an icy chill from Scottish bars and pubs, the hospitality sector teamed up together to protest in a rather unique way but with a very important message.

As of Friday the 9th of October, all pubs, bars, restaurants and cafes are limited to the working hours of 6am-6pm. Meanwhile, there is a nationwide ban on drinking alcohol indoors and a full shutdown of all licensed premises across the central belt.

Whilst these measures are only for 16 days, so far, it is seen as being detrimental to the hospitality sector; who have already been struck immensely by the Covid-19 lockdown measures.  James Withers, the Chief Executive of Scotland Food and Drink, said: “This may seem a short-term, two-week hit but it is targeted at businesses that are barely clinging on to survival.”

With many businesses not managing to survive, such as The O’Neills pub in Aberdeen, staff have also had to be let go in many establishments as the business owners could not afford to keep them on.

On Friday, businesses within the hospitality sector took to the streets to protest these new measures that are seen as, “the death knell for businesses across the hospitality sector, especially pubs and bars,” said Liz Cameron, chief executive of the Scottish Chambers of Commerce. Dumping ice in areas of prominence in their cities, including outside the Scottish Parliament and the Glasgow City Chambers.

Nick Gordon, general manager of Orchid and 99 Bar & Kitchen, explained what the protest meant to local Aberdeen businesses; “The ice represents every cocktail not shaken, every vodka coke not poured. You could say the melting of the ice represents the slow deterioration of our industry at the hands of the government. We’ve seen thousands of job losses, and will see thousands more by the end of these, 16 days.

"The new measurements will mean a cut of staff hours, reducing their pay, and a reduction of profits for the business as a whole, with alcohol making up “90% of our sales”. Yet, whilst less than 5% of Covid-19 cases are linked to the hospitality sector, the industry does seem to be getting targeted the most, “a person can travel by public transport, visit five shops, meet their friend in a park and yet it’s only when they come to a bar that they are met with such excessive procedures…"

Businesses are permitted to remain open until 10pm if they serve people outside, where they can even serve alcohol. However, as we move further into a Scottish Autumn it is unclear just how many people will brave the icy chill.

The future of the Scottish hospitality sector remains extremely uncertain. Whilst the Government has offered £40m, The Chief Executive of the Scottish Beer & Pub Association, Emma McClarkin, stated that: “The available funds will not even come close to covering the required furlough contributions for the period, never mind ongoing fixed costs and stock."

We are not sure what state the world will be in after 16 days, however it is clear that this short-term prohibition will have a severe impact on our drinks industry.

To save our hospitality industry we need to obey the government Covid-19 rules and stop spreading the virus.

For more information on Covid-19 please go to https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/ and install the Scottish NHS Test and Trace App.

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