Covid Scotland: Hospitality businesses need to be compensated 'pound for pound' if Nicola Sturgeon announces official advice on cancelling Christmas parties says Alex Cole-Hamilton

The Scottish Government needs to offer ‘pound for pound’ compensation to hospitality businesses who lose out if Nicola Sturgeon advises Scots to cancel their Christmas parties, says leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats Alex Cole-Hamilton.

Speaking on BBC Good Morning Scotland on Friday, Mr Cole-Hamilton said that he was “really worried about the mixed messages” coming from officials regarding the festive season.

On Thursday afternoon Public Health Scotland (PHS) issued a press release asking people to defer Christmas parties for the time being, saying that a number of Omicron outbreaks have been linked to large gatherings.

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However, Mr Cole-Hamilton criticised the confusing messages saying that recent guidance from Scotland’s national clinical director Jason Leitch advised Scots to keep their Christmas party bookings as planned.

Dr Nick Phin, Director of Public Health Science and Medical Director, PHS said: “There is much that we still need to learn about Omicron, but early evidence suggests that this new Covid variant is much more transmissible.

“We still need to learn more about the severity of disease caused by Omicron and the effectiveness of vaccines, but there are important things that we can do to help protect ourselves and our families now.

"To help minimise the further spread of Covid-19, and Omicron in particular, I would strongly urge people to defer their Christmas parties to another time.”

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Covid Scotland: Hospitality businesses need to be compensated 'pound for pound' if Nicola Sturgeon announces official advice on cancelling Christmas parties says Alex Cole-Hamilton

Mr Cole-Hamilton said that if the science behind the decision has changed then parties should “absolutely” be cancelled, but added that compensation for businesses impacted is essential.

He said: "The government need to pony up and make sure that the hospitality sector – which has been on its knees for 18 months and was looking to Christmas as a bit of a reprieve, as a bit of a hope to get them into the new year – will pound for pound be compensated for every party that is cancelled and every drink that isn’t bought.”

He added: "But we need to be clear and I hope that when the First Minister addresses the news conference at lunchtime, she lays out exactly what the government means about the restrictions around parties, and if it is about a full stop on people’s Christmas parties, we need to compensate.”

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