Scottish events organisations have been left frustrated by the “lack of detail” in first minister of Scotland and leader of the Scottish National Party Nicola Sturgeon’s roadmap out of lockdown.
The roadmap, announced 23 February, states that hospitality businesses such as bars and restaurants could open from April 26 at the earliest. From that point onwards Scotland will return to a tiered system of local restrictions based on the prevalence of the virus in each area.
Sturgeon said, “At that stage, we hope that all parts of the country currently in level four will be able to move out of level four and back initially to level three – possibly with some revision to the content of the levels.”
Sturgeon did not reveal a target date for the lifting of social distancing, despite prime minister Boris Johnson having previously stated it could happen in England on 21 June if strict conditions are met.
NTIA Scotland chair and MD of Subclub Mike Grieve said the lack of detail in the first minister’s statement to the Scottish Parliament was highly disappointing: “Boris Johnstone’s announcement brought a real sense of optimism to our sector throughout the UK with the prospect of fully reopening the late night economy by the end of June in England.”
“It’s clear that the Scottish Government has adopted a more cautious approach than Westminster throughout the pandemic, but we hoped that our own roadmap in Scotland would align more closely with the rest of the UK to allow businesses to begin trading again and young people in particular to resume social activity in well controlled and highly regulated environments such as clubs and music venues. The mental health of our young people is particularly threatened by the ongoing lockdown.
“NTIA Scotland supports the prioritisation of vaccinations to suppress the virus and agree it is vital that the exit from lockdown is fully sustainable. There must be a commitment to continue and accelerate the roll out of the vaccination to include all demographics and age groups as soon as the most vulnerable are protected.
“Meanwhile, it is absolutely vital that significant financial support continues for the most affected businesses such as late night music venues and nightclubs until all trading restrictions are removed.”
The Scottish Conservatives’ Holyrood leader, Ruth Davidson said Sturgeon’s statement fell short of public expectations: “Everyone understands that we might not be able to give people absolute certainty but they were at least expecting the first minister to give them some kind of hope.”