Two major trade bodies for Scottish hospitality said stricter restrictions imposed in Scotland, compared to England, had severely damaged the sector. The trade bodies added that the new restrictions had done nothing to curb the spread of the virus. UK Hospitality Scotland director Leon Thompson spoke to The Times and said: “There’s now a complete lack of trust in the Scottish government over its handling of Covid and its intentions for businesses and the Scottish economy.”
He added: “The Scottish government must show a commitment to keeping businesses open.
“This is just as it has committed to keeping schools open instead of constantly choosing to shut firms down.
“The danger in this endless divergence in rules with England is that Scotland will not be seen as a reliable place to book a holiday or to stage large corporate events.”
Mr Thompson added: “You have to ask whether the Scottish government’s different stance is working?”
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has now reduced the time for self-isolation from ten to seven days, aligning Scotland with the rest of the UK.
But she insisted that other rules to rein in the deadly Omicron pathogen, including restrictions on spectator sports, the closure of nightclubs, and the resumption of table service in pubs, will remain in place.
In England, Boris Johnson has resisted further restrictions.
He has relied instead on people and businesses to take precautions and follow guidelines to test regularly.
Official statistics released last week showed Scotland recorded 1,900 cases per 100,000 people in the last week of 2021.
However, in England, there were proportionally fewer, with only 1,600 per 100,000.
However, a Scottish government spokesman, speaking to The Times, argued: “Official statistics show Scotland has a lower rate of coronavirus infection than England.”
Stephen Montgomery, the spokesman for the Scottish Hospitality Group and owner of the Townhead hotel in Lockerbie, said the Scottish government had not listened to local business groups.
He spoke to The Times and said: “The entire pandemic needs to be handled as a coordinated UK approach from Westminster.
“The restrictions in Scotland haven’t stopped people socialising.
“Shutting down the hospitality industry here just sent our customers across the border to Cumbria and elsewhere.”
The Six Nations rugby fixtures set for Scotland in 2022 could now be held in England.
This is because full attendance at stadiums in England is still allowed.
Scotland’s home games could now potentially be played across the border in Newcastle.