Pubs and restaurants will not survive Christmas unless they are allowed to stay open until 10pm, according to an industry body.

The Scottish Hospitality Group (SHG), which represents businesses including The DRG Group, Signature Pubs and G1 Group, has urged the Scottish Government to change rules in Levels 2 and 3 of the coronavirus restrictions.

It has also demanded the Scottish Government publishes the scientific evidence behind its decision-making.

Hospitality venues in Level 3 must close at 6pm and are not allowed to sell alcohol, while in Level 2 closing time is 8pm indoors - where no alcohol can be sold - and 10.30pm outdoors for food and drinks.

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Angus, Fife and Perth and Kinross will join the central belt, Dundee and Ayrshire in Level 3 from Friday after the tiers were revised on Tuesday.

Stephen Montgomery, spokesman for the SHG, said: "Remaining in the current tiers, or even worse moving up a tier, is a sucker punch for hard-working hospitality staff who face losing their jobs.

"The Government asked us for refinements to the current restrictions that would protect the public and allow us to trade viably.

"We provided those recommendations but they were completely ignored."

The SHG said by extending opening times to 10pm businesses could "operate a full dinner service and bring in enough money to cover fixed costs such as rent, furlough contributions, and staff pension payments".

Nic Wood, director of the Signature Pub Group, said: "The more viable we can be then the less of a burden we will be on the country and we will still provide safe places for people to socialise.

"Were it not for furlough, 75,000 people in the central belt would have lost their jobs this week.

"But the businesses that employ these people still need support to cover the furlough contribution and fixed costs."

He added: "The Scottish Government must sit up and listen to what industry is saying to them or the majority of hospitality businesses, particularly the small, independent operators without deep pockets, will not be here past Christmas.

"Just tweaking the guidance slightly will save thousands of jobs and save the taxpayer millions while still giving the public a safe place to meet friends and family."

It comes as the Scottish Lincensed Trade Association said it is "bitterly disappointed" with the outcome of the Scottish Government’s Economy, Energy and Fair Work Committee’s Stage 1 Report on the Tied Pubs (Scotland) Bill.

Colin Wilkinson, SLTA managing director, said: “The lack of cross-party support for legislation to be introduced to protect Scottish tenants, improving on the current legislation covering only England, has left Scottish-based tenants greatly disadvantaged in comparison to their counterparts south of the Border where even now increased protection measures are being considered."

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