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Hospitality groups launch legal action against Scottish Government

The move comes after restrictions on the industry were extended for a further week.

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Pubs in the central belt have been closed as a means to stop the spread of the virus (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Pubs in the central belt have been closed as a means to stop the spread of the virus (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Pubs in the central belt have been closed as a means to stop the spread of the virus (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Five hospitality industry bodies in Scotland have launched legal action against restrictions imposed on the trade by the Scottish Government.

The move comes after First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced that measures on the sector due to end on Monday will be extended for a further seven days.

These include the closure of licensed premises in the central belt and the curbing of alcohol sales indoors in other parts of the country.

A joint pre-action letter has now been sent to the Scottish Government by the Scottish Beer & Pub Association, the Scottish Licensed Trade Association, UKHospitality (Scotland), the Scottish Hospitality Group and the Night Time Industries Association Scotland.

The battle is now on to save the hospitality sectorPaul Waterson, spokesman for industry bodies

Paul Waterson, group spokesman, said: “We understand and entirely support the goal of suppressing the virus, but our sector is at breaking point.

“Despite having more mitigation measures than other sectors and the vast majority of operators going above and beyond in ensuring customer safety, our sector has been repeatedly targeted without consultation and without the evidence.

“Anecdotal evidence is not the way to go about making Government decisions and the sector should not be used as a balance to uncontrollable risks in other far less regulated and unmonitored sectors.

“The economic support offered to premises doesn’t come close to compensating the businesses and means jobs are being lost and livelihoods ruined.

“Any measures must be proportionate and be backed up by evidence, we do not believe that is the case here.

“The industry simply cannot endure the extension of the current restriction, further restrictive measures expected from the 2nd of November, or to get into a stop-start situation.

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Pubs and restaurants in the central belt were forced to closed on October 9 (PA)

Pubs and restaurants in the central belt were forced to closed on October 9 (PA)

PA

Pubs and restaurants in the central belt were forced to closed on October 9 (PA)

“We are now facing the end of our industry as we know it. The battle is now on to save the hospitality sector.”

The pre-action letter requests a response to legal challenges by 4pm on Wednesday, otherwise the parties say they will ask the courts for a judicial review.

Restrictions are now due to last until a new tiered system is put in place by the Scottish Government on November 2, which will impose measures based on the prevalence of coronavirus in the local area.

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “We are using the powers we have to help businesses, offering support which now exceeds £2.3 billion, including 100% rates relief for pubs and restaurants for the year, and we will extend financial support available to businesses who must stay closed or continue to restrict their trading to cover the additional week of restrictions.

“We are confident the temporary restrictions are essential and proportionate to the risk posed by coronavirus if we are to prevent a return to the dangerous level of infections experienced earlier this year.

“We will respond to the letter in due course.”

PA


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