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Thu 22nd Oct 2020 - Trade bodies begin legal action against Scottish government over sector restrictions
Trade bodies begin legal action against Scottish government over sector restrictions: Five of Scotland’s hospitality industry bodies have begun legal action against restrictions imposed on the sector by the Scottish government. The Scottish Beer & Pub Association, The Scottish Licensed Trade Association, UKHospitality (Scotland), the Scottish Hospitality Group and the Night Time Industries Association Scotland have joined forces in a bid to “save the sector”. It follows the trade bodies receiving an opinion by legal expert Aidan O’Neill QC advising a judicial review would be warranted. The letter requested a response from the Scottish government by 4pm on Wednesday (28 October). If no response is forthcoming, matters could move forward with a petition for judicial review. The group’s spokesman Paul Waterson said: “It is with regret 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 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 the closure of hospitality only has an ‘0.1 to 0.2 impact on the R number’ and the lock-down there has been brought about to ensure behavioural and policy compliance in other areas – effectively confirming 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 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.”

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