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In a letter to the Scottish First Minister, 100 hotels said a ban on serving alcohol to guests in public areas could lead to cancellations. Under current rules announced last week, hotels can serve alcohol to guests in their rooms through room service.
The letter, started by Jill Chalmers, managing director of Glenapp Castle in South Ayrshire, said: “Not being able to sell alcohol in public areas to hotel residents in Scotland negatively impacts their stay and future guests are already starting to cancel their bookings.
“This measure in particular is threatening the small thread of revenue – a lifeline for many – which still exists for hotel businesses in Scotland at this difficult time.
“We urge you to reconsider this and allow hotel guests, staying a minimum of one night, to consume alcohol in all settings, not simply room service alone.
“In addition, we believe that we should be able to serve non-residents until 6pm, as a café is allowed to do.
“If there is no change, we have no doubt that we will suffer deeper losses.
“We are talking about trying to survive, not about profitability.
“Without this small change in your policy, there will be thousands more job losses in the coming month.”
Scotland’s leading hotels including One Devonshire Gardens in Glasgow, The Fairmont in St Andrews, the Marcliffe in Aberdeen and the Prestonfield in Edinburgh are all signatories.
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As of this week, pubs, bars, restaurants and cafes outside central Scotland will only be allowed to operate indoors between 6am and 6pm and not serve alcohol, though drinks can be served until 10pm in outdoor areas.
But all pubs and licensed restaurants in five areas – Greater Glasgow and Clyde, Lanarkshire, Ayrshire and Arran, Lothian, and Forth Valley – will be forced to close for all but takeaway service for 16 days from 6pm on Friday.
However, Nicola Sturgeon revealed on Thursday that cafes can be exempt from the central belt shut down during the day if they do not sell alcohol, triggering confusion about how a cafe is defined.
Dr Liz Cameron, Scottish Chamber of Commerce chief executive, said: “These measures will sound the death knell for businesses across the hospitality sector, especially pubs and bars. Restaurants and hotels, whilst remaining open, will also be constrained on what they can provide and this will place a large dent in their already reduced income.
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“Hospitality businesses in the central belt face collapse if these current restrictions are extended beyond the initial two week period.
“We understand that tackling the spread of COVID-19 must be a top priority for government, but return to trading is essential to prevent the economy unravelling.”
Jackie Baillie MSP, deputy leader of Scottish Labour, added: “It does seem obvious that the First Minister did not take businesses and workers into account when drawing up these latest restrictions.
“We cannot have businesses, the workers they employ, and the public suffering due to the Scottish Government’s lack of foresight.”
In response, a Scottish Government spokesperson, said: “We know that protecting lives and jobs is a difficult balance and we do not underestimate the challenge that these new measures present for businesses – particularly those in the hospitality sector.
“That is why we have committed £40million to our new COVID-19 Restrictions Fund to help affected businesses and protect jobs.”
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