Five hospitality bodies launch government legal challenge

Five of Scotland’s hospitality industry bodies have launched legal proceedings against restrictions imposed on the licensed trade by the Scottish Government. 

The Scottish Beer & Pub Association, The Scottish Licensed Trade Association, UK Hospitality (Scotland), the Scottish Hospitality Group and the Night Time Industries Association Scotland have come together to launch legal proceedings against the current restrictions put in place on the hospitality sector.

The group say operators are "under intense pressure" and are "fighting for the very survival of their businesses" and for the jobs that they provide. 

The Scottish Government was served with the pre-action letter yesterday morning.

The trade bodies sought legal advice and were told a judicial review would be warranted.  

The letter sent by the groups requests a response to legal challenges from the Scottish Government by 4pm next Wednesday. 

In a joint statement the group’s spokesperson, Paul Waterson, said: "It is with regret that we now commence with this first stage in the legal process.

"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.

"Evidence just published in Northern Ireland clearly states that the closure of hospitality only has a '0.1-0.2 impact on the R number' and that the lockdown there has been brought about  to ensure behavioural and policy compliance in other areas.

"Effectively confirming that the hospitality industry has been held up as the sacrificial lamb.

"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 November 2 or get into a stop start situation.

"We are now facing the end of our industry as we know it.

"The battle is now on to save the hospitality sector."

The Scottish Government has been contacted for a response.

But at her daily briefing earlier, the first minister said it was businesses' right to challenge decisions made by the government.

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