Responding to the First Minister’s statement on the remaining restrictions on hospitality and the updated strategic framework, UKHospitality Scotland Executive Director, Leon Thompson said:

“Hospitality businesses will be encouraged by the First Minister’s statement, with the move away from legal measures to a greater reliance on guidance. Ahead of today’s announcement UKHospitality Scotland called for the Scottish Government to demonstrate trust in the public and businesses. It is heartening that we are moving in that direction.

“The removal of compulsory vaccine certification to enter late-night venues from next week is extremely welcome. These businesses have been required to undertake checks since last October and have suffered major financial losses as a result. However, it is disappointing that the compulsory use of face coverings and test and protect in hospitality venues will remain in place until 21 March. Again, it would be better to let businesses and customers decide on the best way to manage risk sooner.

“The updated strategic framework sets out a plan for living with Covid but we are some way off from Scotland’s hospitality sector recovering from two years of restrictions and closures. With costs rising across the board and a VAT rise due this April – just as the wider cost of living crisis is set to heighten – businesses in the sector still need support. At the very least, we need the UK Government to commit to keeping VAT at 12.5% beyond April and the Scottish Government to extend business rate relief of 50% by at least a further three months.”