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The funding announcement follows the First Minister setting out a three week closure of pubs and bars across mainland Scotland from Boxing Day.

The Scottish Government outlined a £104.3m package of support for hospitality in the New Year that will include £19.1m in one-off grants and £50.8m for businesses previously excluded from funding because of their rateable value.

While trade bodies including the Scottish Licensed Trade Association (SLTA) have welcomed the support they said it came at a time of added pressure for businesses.

Urgently review provision 

SLTA managing director Colin Wilkinson said: “However, these additional financial support measures have been marred by the earlier-than-expected lockdown payback measures that the industry had been anticipating.

He added: “In light of this development the Scottish Government will need to urgently review the provision of ongoing, realistic financial compensation if the sector and the staff that it employs are to be here after spring 2021 and part Scotland’s economic recovery.

“We remember Christmas past, we are suffering Christmas present, and who knows what Christmas future will bring. With the right support, delivered now, businesses might just survive in 2021 to once again provide the festive celebrations that we will miss so dearly.”

Backdrop of more restrictions

Chief executive of the Scottish Beer & Pub Association (SBPA) Emma McClarkin said: “These funds will provide a real boost, ensuring that jobs are protected, and businesses survive. The support still has to get to operators though, and it is imperative that local authorities are able to process these payments as quickly and efficiently as possible. 

“This news of course comes against the backdrop of further restrictions which will impact the trade for a long time. The UK and Scottish Governments must now look at an additional support package for hospitality to cover these further restrictions, as it’s a long way back to profitability for our members. The levels must also be amended to extend operating hours and loosen restrictions on alcohol sales to allow pubs and bars a chance of viability in the New Year.”

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon outlined the strict measures following a tightening of Christmas socialising rules and said it was imperative to crack down on growing cases of a new variant of coronavirus.

She said: “To those who say this action is not justified because our current case levels are relatively low, I would say this: four weeks ago, London’s cases were very low too – and now they are running out of control. That is what we face is we do nothing, or do too little.”

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