The Scottish Beer & Pub Association (SBPA) said trading restrictions under the level system made it unviable for many businesses to operate, after the levels for each council area were reviewed yesterday.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced the 11 council areas placed in the toughest level four of coronavirus measures would move into level three from Friday 11 December.
Those council areas are: the City of Glasgow, Renfrewshire, East Renfrewshire, East Dunbartonshire, West Dunbartonshire, North Lanarkshire, South Lanarkshire, East Ayrshire, South Ayrshire, Stirling, and West Lothian.
Hospitality businesses newly in level three can reopen from Saturday 12 December but must close by 6pm and cannot serve alcohol.
Tough business decisions
The Scottish Government has announced an additional £570m of business support, after criticism Scottish pubs were eligible for less help than other nations.
Chief executive of the SBPA Emma McClarkin called the level announcement “bittersweet” for Scottish licensed businesses.
She added: “While the news that further economic support for the sector will be outlined tomorrow is hugely welcome and long overdue, the unwillingness of the Government to review the time restrictions on hospitality and lack of progress on the levels in certain areas like Edinburgh, is hugely disappointing.”
Edinburgh will remain in level three, which the SBPA said could cost pub businesses up to £3.2m in lost turnover if there was no change before January.
The trade body’s analysis suggests only 92 pubs in Edinburgh are open under level three but this would move to 277 if the city was placed into level two.
Three level three areas – Inverclyde, Falkirk and Angus – will move down to level two while Dumfries and Galloway and the Scottish Borders will move to level one from level two.
McClarkin added: “The Christmas and new year period is critically important to businesses in the hospitality sector and the news today that many will be unable to trade as they had hoped and expected will sadly mean some tough business decisions being made over the next few days.”
Industry in crisis
The Scottish Licensed Trade Association (SLTA)’s managing director Colin Wilkinson said restrictions on alcohol and other aspects of trading had made it difficult for operators across the country.
Wilkinson said: “While this is a step in the right direction and it is excellent news that Angus, Falkirk and Inverclyde can move from level three into level two, it has not gone far enough to help an industry in crisis.
“Many operators even in levels two and three areas have already been forced to close down their businesses as it is simply unviable to operate with the current restrictions on the sale of alcohol, capacity levels and the operating times that are currently in place. The Scottish Government needed to lessen these to give some kind of hope for the industry as we head into our fourth winter period in January.
“December is a crucially important part of the year for our industry for a number of reasons, but even more so this year as operators struggle to save their businesses.”
He called for the Scottish Government to “provide proper financial compensation before it’s too late”.