Five leading hospitality industry bodies in Scotland have commenced legal against against the restrictions imposed on licensed trade by the Scottish government.
Together, the Scottish Beer & Pub Association, the Scottish Licensed Trade Association, UKHospitality (Scotland), the Scottish Hospitality Group, and the Night Time Industries Association Scotland have collectivised on behalf of small and medium independent businesses, as well as the larger corporations that operate in the country.
On Wednesday morning, the Scottish government was served with a notice of the action after the judge Aidan O’Neill QC advised that a judicial review of the measures would be warranted.
Following the opinion, the letter from the trade bodies requested a response from the Scottish government by 4pm on Wednesday October 28. If it fails and none is given, a petition for a full judicial review could commence.
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 un-monitored 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 restrictions, further restrictive measures expected from the 2 November 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.”