Scottish hospitality industry taking legal action over Covid restrictions

Robyn Black

Robyn Black

22 October 2020

Five of the country’s trade bodies have taken the unprecedented step of legally challenging the Scottish government over the restrictions placed on hospitality businesses

‘Our sector has been repeatedly targeted without consultation and without the evidence,’ their statement says.

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 to bring the legal challenge.

The Scottish government was served with the pre-action letter yesterday morning, following legal advice that a Judicial Review would be warranted.

It challenges the legal basis of recent restrictive legislation relating to the hospitality sector passed by the Scottish parliament and asks the Scottish government to withdraw the current regulations; to enter into ‘meaningful’ consultation with the sector; and to stop its reliance on certain emergency procedures which avoid any prior parliamentary involvement or discussion.

The letter requests a response to legal challenges from the Scottish government by 4pm on Wednesday 28 October 2020, failing which matters could move forward with a Petition for Judicial Review.

In a joint statement the group’s spokesperson, Paul Waterson, said: ‘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 an “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 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.’

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