THE SCOTTISH Government has been told to focus on better enforcement of pubs and restaurants who ignore public health rules rather than a blanket closure that will “hammer down this industry beyond perhaps recovery point”.

Hospitality and tourism businesses have vented their frustration at 16-day restrictions being place on pubs and restaurants in a bid to halt the spread of Covid-19 across Scotland.

All pubs, bars and restaurants in the Central Belt have been closed completely for the next two weeks - while trades across wider Scotland must close by 6pm.

Businesses took part in a virtual event organised by Scottish Conservative leader, Douglas Ross, who has set out a blueprint for giving traders more of a say in the restrictions and guidance and wants secotrs to be give a week’s notice before tighter measures are rolled out.

READ MORE: Douglas Ross wants seven-day 'adaptation' period for closed businesses

Alasdair Houston, chairman of Gretna Green Ltd, warned that revenues are down by around 83 per cent from last year.

He said: “The vast proportion of hospitality businesses have done everything and more than was the base requirement.

“We’ve really jumped through hoops to provide a safe environment. So I don’t think it’s a lack of regulation that’s the issue, what I don’t hear being discussed enough at the moment is the enforcement of the people that are not following the rules seems, to me, where the problem really lies.

“This really blunt hammer has been taken to the problem – hospitality is being fingered as the harbouring of viral spread and yet I know and my industry colleagues know that responsible hospitality is not.

“The tiny minority of irresponsible hospitality businesses perhaps, and a small but big enough to be important core of people that seem to think the rules don’t apply to them, is the problem as well.”

Mr Houston stressed that the Scottish Government is using a “big blunt hammer that will hammer down this industry beyond perhaps recovery point”.

Fiona Campbell, the chief executive of the Association of Scotland’s Self Caterers (ASSC), said her industry has been “devastated by the one household rule” and has been handed “no financial support whatsoever”.

Ewan Macdonald-Russell from the Scottish Retail Consortium said his sector “remain baffled” by the Scottish Government to re-introduce two-metre distancing in shops, claiming “we didn’t really see a clear evidence base” for the decision.

Linda Hill Miller from LAH Travel has been a retail travel agent for 33 years and has run her own business for 16 years.

She warned that the Scottish Government “don’t value us as an industry”.

She added: “The travel industry has been shut down since February. We’re completely left out in the cold, we’re never discussed, nobody is offering any sector-specific support.

“Whilst my heart breaks for the hospitality sector, for the whole country, it’s awful, why does the government want to value a barista, which I also value because every job is important, why is their job more valuable than a retail travel agent – a business that I have put my heart and soul into?”

READ MORE: Coronavirus Scotland: Pubs and restaurants could remain shut after 16-day lockdown

Mr Ross said the “overwhelming majority” of hospitality businesses that have followed the rules “are now suffering as a result of this blanket approach”.

He added: “We’re now into this two-week period and you are none the wiser what will be expected of you when you come out the other end.

“A small minority of businesses and individuals have led to pretty much a complete shutdown of the hospitality sector in Scotland. We have to look at why everyone is being punished for the actions of a minority of people.”

Mr Ross warned that traders being told they must shut at short notice “is not credible in terms of the support and measures that need to be in place”.

He said: “A small minority has done the damage that is now affecting the whole sector, so we need to get that support to the sector.

“This is an industry that made big changes, a sector that took on board the advice they were getting from the Scottish Government to make the necessary changes to allow them to safely re-open, to protect customers and protect staff.

“Of all that effort and all that cost, they are still being told to close their doors. The crucial point is what do they do now? What do they do in this period to further make any stipulations that the Scottish Government is going to put on them, when they re-open?

"It is simply not credible to say if you re-open, we’ll allow to continue doing what you were doing before and then we might have to go into another circuit breaker or mini-lockdown in a few weeks or months' time.”