Scotland's on-trade closure is "Doomsday scenario" for the sector, says SLTA

Around 12,500 jobs could be lost within Scotland’s pub and bar sector following today’s news that its pubs and restaurants will close for at least the next three weeks to help stop the spread of Covid-19, according to the Scottish Licensed Trade Association (SLTA).

This sits alongside concerns that Britain’s overall hospitality trade is likely to see more than half a million job losses after the government’s furlough scheme ends this month, according to UK Hospitality.  

The news today of the First Minister’s measures, which will see the closure of Scotland’s pubs and restaurants, has been dubbed as a “Doomsday scenario” for Scotland’s hospitality sector, by SLTA.

Colin Wilkinson, SLTA managing director, said: “The recent introduction of the 10pm closing time plus the two-household group of six rule is having a devasting effect on the industry – closures are looming and now today’s announcement of further restrictions and temporary lockdowns will only accelerate business failure and job losses.”

A recent survey highlighted that nearly 40% of hospitality businesses were considering closure or business exit. In September, an SLTA survey of 600 on-trade premises highlighted that within the pub and bar sector, 12,500 jobs could go.

Wilkinson added: “These figures have increased dramatically in only a month. When the industry reopened after lockdown and with the then restrictive measures in place, it was estimated that two-thirds of hospitality businesses could still be viable, but only just, with one-third of businesses unable to open.

“Now that figure has flipped and in our estimation two-thirds of hospitality businesses could be mothballed or go under. Over 50% of jobs in the pub and bar sector could also be lost which will have a particularly deep impact on the employment of young people as over 40% of staff employed are under the age of 25.

“Our research already tells us that many in the industry are on the precipice of business failure and these further restriction measures announced today and the much quieter winter season approaching leads us to only one conclusion: the sector is now heading into a scenario of ‘last man standing’.

“Details of the First Minster’s announcement of a £40 million financial support package are awaited but the question is: will this be enough? In our opinion the hospitality sector in general needs substantially greater and far more reaching support than has just been announced and does not come anywhere near to saving our industry.”

Wilkinson concluded: “Responsible operators are running safe, carefully monitored establishments so in our opinion there is no need for the Scottish Government to ‘go further’ on pubs. Actions by governments are meant to be proportionate and evidence based and despite reference today to newly-released ‘evidence’ the industry continues to call on the Government to provide the evidence for infection rates stemming directly from the licensed trade.

“Industry figures suggest that there are very low infection rates of staff within our pubs and bars which suggests to us that the industry is doing everything that it can and is providing as safe an environment as possible – otherwise, if we were a major causal route of infection, this would surely be reflected in the infection rate of hospitality staff.

“It would appear again that Scotland’s licensed trade is the sacrificial lamb and paying the price for other sectors that do not operate under such restrictive measures as we have seen recently.”

Meanwhile, UK Hospitality recently forecast that more than half a million jobs could be lost from the UK’s hospitality sector, out of the current number of 900,000 furloughed workers. The current measures, including local restrictions, the Rule of Six and the 10pm curfew for pubs and restaurants, has led to the group stating this further could now be “far higher”.

Related articles: