Edinburgh’s top chefs, restaurateurs & hoteliers urge First Minister to support industry through Coronavirus crisis.
Some of the biggest names in Scottish hospitality, food and drink have written to Scotland’s First Minister asking for specific support to prevent the collapse of businesses due to the Coronavirus Pandemic.
Hospitality employs more than 220,000 people directly in Scotland but since the end of March hotels, bars and restaurants have been in lockdown. Ministers have made clear the nature of the industry means it will be one of the last areas to unlock. Now leading operators are warning of business closures and mass unemployment in the sector unless the more support is forthcoming.
In a letter to Nicola Sturgeon, top chefs and restaurateurs including Michelin starred Tom Kitchin and Martin Wishart predict Scotland could lose its international reputation for food and drink if their concerns are ignored.
“Social distancing simply does not work in most restaurants, bars and hotels. If furlough ends and restaurants, bars and hotels are allowed to reopen but with social distancing enforced and no income from major events and festivals, the result will be a tidal wave of business closures and mass redundancies, increasing Scottish unemployment and the strain on the welfare system.”, they say.
The group, which includes Scotland’s only two star Michelin restaurant, chef Nick Nairn and the famed Three Chimneys on the Isle of Skye want action on key measures to save their sector.
*Furlough. They are calling for a specific extension for hospitality staff beyond October to give the sector enough time to get back on its feet
*Rent. They want more Scottish Government support against inflexible landlords who are still demanding full rent.
*Business Rates. They are asking for an extension of the business rates holiday into next year to give the sector time to recover.
*Funding. They say Scotland need an Independent Hospitality Development Fund to help businesses here adjust to new trading and target and build domestic tourism
*Validation. With consumers nervous about venturing out again, they say a Covid Code is required to reassure the public that specific steps have been taken to keep them safe.
With these measures in place, the group believe the sector can recover and prosper again.
“We are desperate to be back in business, employing people, supporting our world class producers and suppliers, paying taxes and enhancing Scotland’s worldwide reputation for food, drink and hospitality but we can only do this with your support”, they say in their letter to the Scottish Government.
Image: Gordon Campbell Gray (The Wee Hotel Company, which includes The Three Chimneys on the Isle of Skye and The Pierhouse Hotel & Seafood Restaurant at Port Appin in Argyll); Tom Kitchin, Nick Nairn and Edinburgh’s Carina Contini.