Hospitality industry needs support now - leader comment

Nicola Sturgeon is not a politician known for being loose with language.

Scotland faces a difficult Christmas
Scotland faces a difficult Christmas

Everything she says is carefully considered, particularly in Covid briefings to the nation. When she spoke on Friday about a “tsunami” of infections, she knew it would lead every front page the following day.

Friday’s briefing was sombre, with far stronger warnings about what lies ahead than anyone was expecting. Even coming as it did after the Public Health Scotland advice to cancel Christmas parties, few could have predicted such a stark message.

We are being warned of further restrictions being imposed with all eyes on Tuesday in the Scottish Parliament. The government was said to be “wrestling” with what they will look like over the weekend.

What is clear is that this will not be the near normal Christmas we were all hoping for, and for the hospitality sector in particular urgent support is now required.

Bars, restaurants and hotels have faced an avalanche of cancellations ever since that first PHS message went out on Thursday night.

One business told us they had received more than 900 cancellations over a 48-hour period. Stock ordered in set to go to waste, staff wages still need paying, much-needed revenue disappearing in the course of a couple of days.

A sector on its knees was kicked again just as it looked to Christmas trade perhaps being a lifeline into 2022.

Remaining, as it does, advice rather than a directive to cancel events, firms are left in an impossible situation.

The Scottish Government must now step in to hold urgent discussions over what support can be provided, and avoid simply kicking the issue back to Westminster.

Everyone is understandably nervous again, and we will remain so until further advice is forthcoming.

That is intentional, the Scottish Government has chosen to ramp up the warnings and put the country on alert as it grapples with Omicron.

We, of course, hope that the most pessimistic predictions do not come true and this is a case of preparing for the worst and hoping for the best.

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