The hospitality sector felt it was subjected to a “vendetta” over coronavirus restrictions because it was an “easy target” for the Scottish Government, an industry representative has said.
UK Hospitality director Leon Thompson said many businesses felt “picked on” when the Scottish Government was deciding to introduce or reimpose restrictions.
Speaking at a Scottish Labour conference event about the night-time economy, Mr Thompson said there had been a “knee-jerk reaction from the Scottish Government when it came to reimposing restrictions”.
He added: “Many businesses I’ve spoken to felt there was effectively a vendetta against hospitality, a war of attrition against hospitality.
“They think they unfairly targeted hospitality businesses because they were, in effect, an easy target.”
Glasgow nightclub owner Donald MacCleod also accused the Government of “insidious micromanagement” of the sector as the pandemic progressed.
He said: “I was fully supportive of the measures to start with, we were fully behind it – we didn’t know what we were dealing with and what would happen.
“But over the course of the pandemic I became very disillusioned with the Scottish Government.
“The support wasn’t happening quick enough even though the money was there.
“Then the insidious micromanaging crept in, they were not consulting and not listening.”
Addressing the fringe meeting, Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar said there has to be “continued support and good relationships” between the politicians and the hospitality sector.
He said: “It cannot just be a relationship through a pandemic in the worst of circumstance.
“It has to be an active, proactive relationship because unless we can get the night-time industry and the hospitality industry back on track, we will not regenerate our high streets, we will not restart our economy and we will not get growth back.
“We will not then be able to grow the tax intake to be able to invest more in our public services, our NHS or education.”
Asked about the comments, a Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “We are all too aware of the impact Covid-19 has had – and continues to have – on businesses and the Scottish economy, including hospitality.
“The protections which have been put in place across Scotland have always been designed to balance harm from Covid-19 and the effects on business and other sectors, and our decision making is always based on the latest clinical evidence.
“Our £375 million support package for businesses included up to £113 million for eligible hospitality and leisure businesses impacted by the necessary measures put in place to curb the transmission of Omicron.”
Published: by Radio NewsHub