Unlike its English counterpart, Scotland’s reopening timeline offered scarce guidelines around the return of nightlife. Night Time Industries (NTIA) Scotland is now taking legal action against the Scottish government for COVID-19 restrictions it argues are unjust.
U.K. law firm TLT served the legal notice to First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon on behalf of the advocacy group on Friday. It reads, in part, “Our clients and the businesses they represent have concluded that it is now very clear that the Scottish government is, at best, completely indifferent and, at worst, actively opposed to the interests and well-being of Scotland’s night-time economy.”
Much of the grant money awarded to Scottish establishments sidelined by the pandemic has run out, and present restrictions prevent them from operating sustainably. Even at the current Level 3 COVID-19 protection levels, nightclubs are forbidden from operating and bars can only provide full service in outdoor areas. Most crucially, lawmakers have given no indication of when the when the restrictions might lift.
“As things stand, we have no ability to trade, no indicative date for reopening, no ongoing funding, and no prospect of keeping our staff in employment,” said Sub Club managing director and NTIA Scotland chair Mike Grieve in a statement. “Meanwhile, the oft-quoted ‘scientific data’ backing the regular assertion from Scottish government that hospitality settings are a significant factor in COVID-19 transmission has yet to be produced. It is completely wrong to decimate an industry based on untested presumptions.”
NTIA Scotland is a branch of the Night Time Industries Association, an organization that represents nightlife institutions across the U.K. Under the direction of CEO Michael Kill, it has published reports on the impacts of the pandemic on the industry based on surveys of its member businesses.
The Scottish government reports that 226,000 people have tested positive for COVID-19 with almost 7,700 resulting deaths since the start of the pandemic.