An Aberdeen pubs boss believes the expected extension of coronavirus restrictions will prolong the “never-ending nightmare” for the hospitality industry.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has warned it is “likely” a move to Level 0 that had been expected at the end of the month will be pushed back.
The announcement came amid concerns about increasing numbers of Covid cases across Scotland with rising hospital numbers linked to the Delta Variant.
‘All of us are in debt’
Businessman Nic Wood, who runs Signature Pub Group, has called for more financial support from governments to help the industry ride out the delay.
The firm runs Nox, Paramount and the Spiritualist in Aberdeen as well as about another 20 premises mainly based in Edinburgh and Glasgow, which are still in Level 2 restrictions.
Today Mr Wood, who is also a spokesman for the Scottish Hospitality Group, called on government Covid loan repayments to be delayed to allow firms more time to bounce back from the pandemic.
He told BBC Radio Scotland: “I think it’s a never-ending nightmare for hospitality workers and the businesses that employ them.
“Everything just seems to be going back.
“All of us are in debt from the last 18 months from what has been happening. The quicker we can get back to some sort of normality, the quicker we can get back to paying it off.
“At the moment we are just thinking about breaking even, none of us are thinking about paying our debts off.
“We are just at the stage of getting customers through the door and keeping our staff happy.
“I would like the Scottish Government to spend some time with hospitality and understand the challenges we are facing.”
However, Mr Wood accepted it was wise to be cautious to avoid stricter coronavirus restrictions being reimposed again.
Hold on while we move the goalposts again? First it was vaccinate the vulnerable to create protection, now that’s no longer good enough. Chat of 8-10 weeks of delays rolls us into another autumn and winter of discontent 💔 https://t.co/leSHDJrDrw
— Stuart McPhee 🏴 (@stuartmcphee19) June 15, 2021
Government wants to avoid third wave
However, the Scottish Government’s business minister Ivan McKee told BBC Radio Scotland he was unable to provide any assurances about how long the country would be held at the current levels.
He said: “There is still an open question about the connections between the impact of vaccinations on hospital numbers and fatalities as a consequence of that.
“The data is beginning to show the vaccinations are having an impact but there is still more data being collected and with more variants in place it is a complicated picture.
“We were in this position last year and we had a second wave. We don’t want a third wave and have to move back to higher levels again.”