- 04 Jun 21
NTIA Scotland have thus far raised over £50,000 of funds for their legal challenge over the country's night-time industry Covid restrictions.
Lobby group The Night Time Industries Association of Scotland is raising funds for their legal action against the Scottish Government, focusing on the Covid lockdown restrictions.
The NTIA seeks to influence the decisions of policymakers and ensure that the night time economy continues to flourish; supporting regeneration, job creation and the enhancement of Scotland's nightlife reputation.
A crowdfunder page has already raised thousands of pounds for the NTIA's legal challenge against the Scottish Government, and aims to reach the £70,000 mark before June 12th.
The statement made on the page notes the group's intention to proceed with a judicial review challenging the "validity of all legal restrictions" currently being imposed upon the hospitality and night time economy businesses in Scotland under The Health Protection Regulations 2020.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon recently announced a "slight slowing down" in the lifting of lockdown rules for much of Scotland amid the spread of the Indian variant of coronavirus.
Under Scotland's current Covid rules, alcohol can only be served outside and venues must close at 8pm indoors.
"The hospitality sector in general, and late-night sector in particular, has been driven to the edge of insolvency by the severe restrictions in place since the start of the pandemic," the NTIA's crowdfunder reads.
"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. Even worse all strategic framework funding has now ended while there is no end date for the restrictions that make these businesses commercially unviable. 39,000 jobs are now at risk as a direct result."
JOIN THE NTIA SCOTLAND IN SUPPORT OF 39,000 JOBS AT RISK WITHOUT ACTION FROM SCOTGOV - The Night Time Economy cannot viably open with Social Distancing - Share This Post Across your platforms to Raise Awareness & Tag Your Colleagues in the Comments - #1OF39K #SaveNightlife pic.twitter.com/WwbPJVUGdW
— NTIA (@wearethentia) May 19, 2021
According to the NTIA, the current emergency restrictions on opening, capacity, activities, and operating hours make thousands of businesses commercially unviable.
"Fixed costs such as rent, insurance, staff furlough costs, etc, have far exceeded the income coming in from revenue and grants, resulting in the typical small business owner in our sector incurring around £150,000 in Covid-related debt per premises, which represents many years’ worth of normal profits," the statement adds.
While the NTIA accept that restrictions were "initially necessary in the interests of public health", they disagree with the current social distancing measures.
"Social distancing is toxic for businesses across numerous sectors of the economy, from restaurants, pubs and bars, wedding suppliers, music venues, nightclubs, coach tours, travel, and tourism, and many more. These can result in declines in capacity and therefore income of up to 75% and force businesses to trade at substantial losses even if allowed to open," the statement reads.
"Additional restrictions on live music, dancing, mandatory seated drinking, table service, and more, further reduce the ability of premises to generate sufficient custom to survive."
The NTIA asserts that Covid-19 no longer presents the threat to public health that it did even a few short months ago, with all those at risk of preventable mortality receiving a vaccine dose.
"All those at serious risk of hospitalisation or mortality have now been offered a vaccine, and take-up rates have been well above expectations with almost all of JCVI Groups 1-9 now vaccinated," the organisation commented.
"These groups represent around 99% of preventable mortality from COVID-19 and the results of vaccination are startlingly effective. Evidence presented to SAGE noted that of 42,788 Covid-19 cases admitted to UK hospitals between the start of the vaccination programme on December 8th, and March 5th, just 32 had received a vaccine at least three weeks before."
NTIA go on to state that the restrictions imposed on hospitality businesses by Scottish Government with regards to capacity, activities and operating hours are no longer justifiable or proportionate.
"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."
The NTIA is retaining the services of TLT Solicitors and the Dean of the Faculty of Advocates, Roddy Dunlop QC, to argue their case in Court at the earliest practical opportunity.
Members of the group include Mike Grieve of Glasgow's Sub Club, Gavin Stevenson of Mor-Rioghain Group - which has venues across the north east - and Donald Macleod of CPL, promoter at Glasgow's Cathouse.
"This fund is to raise money to support the Industry through the NTIA in challenging Scottish Government over the current Covid Restrictions and the absence of a roadmap which includes late night economy businesses," their statement concludes.
The Scottish government said: “We all want to get back to normal as soon as it is safely possible, but we must move very carefully to ensure continued suppression of the virus.
“The strategic framework business fund (SFBF) provided grants to businesses that were required to close by law or to significantly change their operation due to Covid-19 restrictions from 2 November 2020.
“Nightclubs were eligible for SFBF and will have now received restart grants of up to £19,500, equivalent to more than six months support provided by SFBF every four weeks.”