Night Time Industries Association Scotland has launched legal action against the Scottish Government over the SNP’s coronavirus policies.
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In a statement, NTIA Scotland said: “Scottish Government support has been wholly inadequate to compensate for operating losses and a majority of businesses have now incurred unsustainable debt as a result.”
Noting that 39,000 jobs are at risk, it argued that the costs of rent, staff furlough, insurance and other expenses are now far exceeding the income gained from revenue and government grants.
They said the average small business in the sector has now exceeded £150,000 in coronavirus-related debts.
NTIA Scotland said that they agreed that initial lockdowns and restrictions on nightlife were necessary, “thanks to the heroic efforts of our NHS workers, vaccine researchers and scientists, and the immensely successful roll-out of the vaccine, COVID-19 no longer presents the threat to public health that it did even a few short months ago.”
The statement continued: “It is therefore the position of the NTIA that the restrictions imposed on hospitality businesses by Scottish Government with regards to capacity, activities and operating hours are no longer justifiable or proportionate and any continued application of such emergency restrictions would now be in breach of Article 1 of the First Protocol to the European Convention on Human Rights, which applies in the UK by virtue of the Human Rights Act 1998.”
NTIA Scotland has now hired a legal team to argue its case in court at the earliest practical opportunity.
This comes after an open letter from the Scottish Commercial Music Industry Task Force (SCMIT) this week, which called on the Scottish Government to provide urgent support in order to prevent the “collapse” of the live music industry in Scotland.
“Scottish music has been muted by government-imposed restrictions. It’s been left behind the rest of the UK, which will have a catastrophic impact on our businesses, freelancers and artists,” the letter said.
It was announced last week that Scotland’s music venues, cinemas, theatres and comedy can reopen from May 17.
They will be allowed to welcome back crowds of up to 100 people, providing that social distancing can be accommodated as part of Scotland’s road map out of lockdown. The same date will also see outdoor events and festivals being permitted for up to 500.
Those plans were subsequently criticised by live music bosses in Scotland, with one deriding the Scottish Government’s roadmap as “meaningless for the viability of live entertainment in Scotland”.