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Wed 10th Jun 2020 - Hospitality businesses in Scotland told to prepare for 15 July reopening
Hospitality businesses in Scotland told to prepare for 15 July reopening: Hospitality and tourism businesses in Scotland have been told they may be able to reopen on 15 July. Rural economy secretary Fergus Ewing revealed the target date in a statement at Holyrood. Announcing the potential lifting of restrictions, Ewing said: “As things stand just now, our hope is that we would be able to give the go-ahead to a reopening of the sector at the 9 July review. Assuming this does prove possible, some time would then be required for inter-connecting services, such as transport, to be prepared. On that basis, and on the clear understanding with the industry that nothing can be absolutely guaranteed at this stage, and we may need to change this date if the evidence requires it, we would encourage tourism and hospitality businesses to prepare, within appropriate safety guidelines, for reopening on 15 July.” Ewing also revealed a taskforce would be established to draw up a plan for the revival of the tourism industry. Willie Macleod, UKHospitality executive director for Scotland, said: “It’s good to have some clarity from the Scottish government and a real sense we are moving towards the reopening of hospitality and tourism businesses. Recognising there may be a need to change dates and timing in the interests of health and safety, it will take time, weeks in some cases, for businesses to get back in working order, communicate with customers, handle bookings, arrange staffing and order supplies, so this lead-time is very helpful. UKHospitality has developed detailed guidelines to assist businesses to reopen and looks forward to the publication of the Scottish government’s own guidance on 18 June. Businesses will need ongoing support – many to see them through to the spring of 2021 – this support includes grants to those with rateable values above £51,000 and any underspend on grants made available thus far must be directed in this way. The proposed recovery task force is a welcome step and there will be a need for radical steps including a substantial reduction in VAT to kick-start the tourism economy. Consumer confidence is going to be vital to businesses as the sector reopens. Hospitality and tourism businesses in Scotland have been hammered very hard and trading will be tricky once they reopen. Social distancing measures will be in place and businesses will only be able to operate at a fraction of normal capacity. It’s therefore vital we get as much support as possible. A positive and very visible campaign from the Scottish government to encourage customers to get back out and support businesses is needed. We need it to make the case for supporting two vital pillars of the Scottish economy that have been hit seriously hard over the past few months.”

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