House parties are bigger Covid risk than hospitality venues

Members of the Scottish Hospitality Group have served 1,867,000 customers since venues reopened – with only 17 confirmed Covid cases.

Saturday, 3rd October 2020, 7:30 am
Fears for hospitality...Stephen Montgomery believes that another lockdown would see many jobs being lost forever.
Fears for hospitality...Stephen Montgomery believes that another lockdown would see many jobs being lost forever.

The group represents many of the country’s best-loved hospitality chains which employ more than 6000 people.

It is now calling on politicians to recognise the crucial role the industry can play in helping combat the spread of Covid-19.

And it warned that tighter curfews and shutdowns would dramatically increase the spread of the outbreak.

Stephen Montgomery, the group’s spokesman, said: “Bars and restaurants are a crucial part of the solution to combat Covid, not the problem.

“If they are closed, even for a short time, all the evidence shows that people will simply socialise at home, without any of the safeguards we’ve spent months implementing.

“Our sector is the most regulated in the country and is the only safe place left where people can socialise.

“Between them, our members have served more than 1.8 million customers since reopening after the lockdown and have recorded a total of 17 confirmed cases of Covid.

“That shows how rigorously we have been implementing the rules and how counter-productive it would be to impose further restrictions.

“The current curfew is not the answer, as we have all seen. It leads to overcrowding in the streets, on public transport and to house parties – a major source of infection.”

The group has written to senior politicians including the First Minister, Cabinet Secretaries and Holyrood Committee Convenors calling on them to see for themselves the comprehensive steps that hard-working staff are taking.

Stephen, who operates two well-known hotels in Dumfries and Galloway, added: “We have bent over backwards to ensure staff and customers are protected.

“We’d urge politicians to visit our premises to see just how much effort has been put in to make Scotland’s bars and restaurants safe and secure.

“As well as the public health risks of shutting the sector, the economic cost would be catastrophic for an industry worth £10.6 billion to the Scottish economy annually and that employs 285,000 people.

“Many of those jobs will be lost forever if businesses which are already on their knees are forced to close.”