Scotland’s hospitality sector needed more draconian Covid measures like a hole in the head. Instead, many businesses suggest Nicola Sturgeon has misfired with a killshot right through the heart of the wide based industry.
“Snooker and pool halls, indoor bowling alleys, casinos and bingo halls will close in these areas for two weeks from 10 October,” Scotland’s First Minister declared, locking the doors across the central belt of the country until 25 October. Some of these venues had only been open for a few months – collecting an estimated revenue haul for 2020 of circa 15-20 percent of their usual annual turnovers. That will hurt – for many, it will be for good.
Arcade closures were not referenced, but recent history suggests that the operators hands will be cuffed by these latest Covid measures; Nicola Sturgeon is not likely to let anyone get away. Least of all the pub sector. A complex myriad of options were laid out, all, though, leading in one direction: ‘devastation’.
Nick MacKenzie, CEO of Greene King, which has 240 pubs in Scotland and 2,500 employees, said it all: “Today’s shut-down of Scottish pubs is a devastating blow for the thousands of people who work in the industry. It is time to stop unfairly targeting pubs.”
The omni-present CEO of the SBPA, Emma McClarkin, was equally despairing in her response: “These harsh new restrictions will deliver a knockout blow for many of Scotland’s much-loved pubs and the communities they serve. We entirely understand and appreciate the difficult situation of the government… but we question the fairness and wisdom of these restrictions.”
And she’s right. At roughly the same time as Scotland unveiled its new Covid response, across the border, Greene King’s Suffolk office confirmed that it was preparing to close 79 pubs and cut hundreds of jobs – that was its crucial response to falling trade resulting from Covid measures.