By Kristy Dorsey

Owners and managers of nearly 100 of Scotland’s leading hotels and restaurants have endorsed an urgent call for better clarity on future lockdown restrictions, particularly during the vital festive season.

The campaign, which is being coordinated by Glenapp Castle in Ayrshire, warns of “permanent” economic scarring being faced by the hospitality sector. In a letter to the First Minister, Glenapp managing director Jill Chalmers has outlined a three-point “reassurance programme” to avoid further unnecessary damage.

“We fully understand the important part we must all play in controlling the spread of Covid-19 in Scotland but the short time frame given to businesses, and especially the hospitality sector, to prepare and react to the consequences of each new restriction makes it impossible for businesses to operate professionally,” .the letter states.

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“This lack of clarity and information directly impacts our future bookings, in particular Christmas and New Year. This period is of critical importance to protecting the hospitality industry’s financial stability, which has been so fragile since March.”

The letter – whose backers include the likes of Michelin star chef Tom Kitchin, David Barclay of One Devonshire Gardens and Stewart Spence, owner of the Marcliffe Hotel and Spa in Aberdeen – calls for “details now” to prepare for tier changes, and more evidence for those changes. This should include plans for cross-border and cross-regional travel restrictions.

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The industry is also asking for immediate confirmation of the full tier system up to the end of December, along with plans for any future changes to numbers within social bubbles. And finally, industry leaders are asking the Government for information on any possible lockdown in January, including specific dates so businesses can plan for temporary closures.

Ms Chalmers said the sector has now “struggled for long enough” with “too many” redundancies and closures.

“Without these urgent detailed answers about exact opening dates and tier structures, the sector will suffer a deeper malaise throughout December and into 2021, and Scotland will be left with a permanent economic scar caused by the collapse of so many hotels and restaurants,” she said.