THE rule of six will have a “devastating” impact on the hospitality sector, an industry body has warned.

The Scottish Hospitality Group (SHG) said that the sector is on “life support” and warned that up to 90,000 jobs could be lost if a crash like the 2008 financial crisis happens.

Under the new restrictions, which came into force legally on Monday, only six people from two households can meet, with people advised to follow the guidelines from September 10 onwards.

Previously, up to eight people from three households could meet indoors, while outside as many as 15 people from five households had been allowed to gather.

Hotelier Stephen Montgomery (pictured), spokesman for SHG, said the sector understands the public health reasons for the rule of six but they are a blow for the industry.

He said: “The rule of six is devastating for us. Personally I’m 24.6% down this weekend on the previous weekend before it came in and across the group it’s 25-30% comparing this weekend to the previous one.

“We are already running at 55-60% capacity compared to pre-Covid so if you add that together it’s having a major effect on us. The two household thing is the big one. We are used to the three households over eight people but now with the flick of a switch it’s six people over two households and the age limit of 12 and under has not really helped.”

Montgomery added: “We as a sector totally get that health has to come before profit, we understand that and we are doing every single thing we are being asked to do but we need to make sure government listens to us.”

SHG represents restaurant and bar businesses which collectively employ almost 6000 staff and its members include Di Maggio’s, G1 Group and Signature Pubs.

Montgomery is calling on the UK Government to consider continuing the furlough scheme with a sector-specific furlough for hospitality, and to continue the reduced rate of 5% VAT for hospitality which is due to continue until January.

He is also calling for support with business rates from the Scottish Government and urged it to continue to listen to the views of the sector.

He said: “There are going to be a lot casualties in the sector. Many small operators have only got one or two places and their life savings are put into this and they stand at the brink of disaster at the moment.

“We are living on a life support machine, one more thing could just flick that switch and that’s it and to keep that life support going you need to keep feeding it.”