Five hospitality industry bodies from Scotland have taken the unprecedented step launching legal action against restrictions imposed on the licensed trade by the local 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 the move.
They say they are taking action to save not just the small to medium independent business, but also the large corporate multi-operators that operate within the Scottish hospitality industry.
All these operators are under intense pressure and are fighting for the very survival of their businesses and for the jobs that they provide.
It was announced yesterday that bars and restaurants in the central belt of Scotland – which includes Edinburgh and Glasgow – are to remain closed for another week after short-term Covid-19 restrictions were extended.
The move comes as a further 28 deaths linked to the virus were recorded on Wednesday.
In response, the Scottish government was served with the pre-action letter.
It follows the trade bodies receiving an opinion by prominent legal expert, Aidan O’Neill QC, advising that a judicial review would be warranted.
The letter requests a response to legal challenges from the Scottish government by 16:00 on Wednesday, October 28th, failing which matters could move forward with a petition for judicial review.
In a joint statement, 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.”
He added: “The economic support offered to premises does not 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.”
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