PRESSURE is growing on the UK Government to make more funding available for businesses and workers hit hard by coronavirus pandemic restrictions.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and SNP shadow chancellor Alison Thewliss made the calls as the UK Government announced a new funding scheme that begins on November 1.

There has been widespread criticism that the scheme, which will see the UK government pay two-thirds of wages for workers at businesses forced to close as a direct result of the restrictions, does not go far enough.

Making the announcement, Chancellor Rishi Sunak ignored Sturgeon’s plea for the support to begin immediately to help the thousands of restaurant and bars affected by new restrictions which came into force in Scotland on Friday.

A Treasury spokesperson told the Sunday National that this was “not under consideration” and the scheme would not come into force until November 1.

Until November businesses that are asked to close can continue to use the furlough scheme but this pays only 60% of wages and does not cover bills, national insurance, pensions or holiday pay.

Thewliss backed business and union leaders who warned that even the new winter support will not be enough.

“The SNP has been calling for a full extension to the national furlough scheme since May,” said Thewliss. “The limited measures will still leave many workers, businesses and self-employed people with no support at the worst possible time."

She added: “It is crucial Scottish ministers have absolute discretion in deciding on public health grounds when to bring in restrictions in Scotland and not have to wait for Westminster approval before financial support is made available.”

The Scottish Government currently has £40m available to support restaurants and bars forced to close during the new mini-lockdown but this only works out at between £1000 and £2000 per business – which the hospitality sector says is not nearly enough to stop businesses going under and workers being laid off.

This weekend Scotland’s hospitality industry took their fight to the doors of government when they staged a protest outside Holyrood and the City Chambers in Glasgow and symbolically dumped a load of ice outside.

Many in the sector, who are already struggling to keep their businesses open, believe the latest mini-lockdown will result in a meltdown for many premises.

Cafe owners, bars and restaurateurs have been confused over the new restrictions which they believe are confusing and will prove unproductive in restraining the virus while having a devastating effect on business.

Graham Suttle, the managing director of Kained Holdings, and the operator of seven bars and restaurants said the protest was “a visual representation of the sheer needless waste of produce, talent, time, money and ultimately jobs that this virtually baseless set of restrictions have imposed.”

The latest tranche of new measures from Holyrood introduced last Friday means pubs, bars, restaurants and cafes will be able to open indoors until 6pm – but only to serve food and non-alcoholic drinks.

Some will be able to serve alcohol in outdoor settings such as beer gardens until 10pm, with the current rules on no more than six people from two households remaining in place.

Even stricter measures will be in place in Scotland’s five central belt health authorities including Greater Glasgow and Clyde, Lanarkshire, Forth Valley, Lothian and Ayrshire and Arran.

All licensed premises must close outdoors and indoors, although hotels can remain open for residents. Takeaway services will be permitted, and cafés without an alcohol licence will be able to stay open until 6pm.

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But Barry Oates, owner of the popular Kelvingrove Cafe in Glasgow warned that it will cause havoc.

He said: “At least with me I’m held to task with health and safety, sanitising and standards.

‘‘But you’re not going to get people in Scotland to stop having a drink. You’re simply not. And you’re just going to end up with illegal house parties of more than six people, two households and the virus is just going to spread like wildfire.

“And the other knock-on effect of it is that it is just going to run right through the middle of the hospitality industry and destroy us.

“If they are just going to use us as a scapegoat or whipping boy to appease the paranoid delusions that working in bars is a dirty trade or people drinking in bars are bad people, they’re really not.’’

Oates also believes that the separation of indoors and outdoors when it comes to the new rules will be unworkable, both financially and practically.

The Kelvingrove Cafe owner, who has a beer garden, added: ‘’It’s not big enough for me to open. We’re not set up for these knee-jerk reactions, two days’ notice.

“And I don’t think it’s possible to have a different rule for the outside than the inside. People are going to want to come in and use the toilets, to pay.

“And let’s face it in Scotland if people have big rounds of drinks and it starts raining as it does in Scotland what are we going to do? Tell them that they have to stay outside and drink their pint in the rain?"

Seumas MacInnes, owner of the Cafe Gandolfi in Glasgow’s Merchant City, is also trying to work out the new rules.

He said: “It’s ill-thought-out. I’m devastated. Although I’m called Cafe Gandolfi, environmental health have viewed me as a restaurant.

“I can’t afford to get this wrong. I need to be compliant, so I’m going to have to close for the next 16 days. I’m on my knees.

“I think it was Nick Nairn who said it’s about £2000 per restaurant but that’s not enough to keep a restaurant going. With furlough going down, we’re all struggling.’’

Mo Clark, of Kained Holdings which has Lebowskis West End, The Finnieston, Porter & Rye and The Crafty Pig in Glasgow chimed with that view.

He said: “There does not seem to be any logic in shutting down bars and restaurants when cafes for some strange reason are allowed to be operational.

“Is a cafe operating far more strictly than a restaurant and bar? I am not suggesting they are less stringent but why make a difference. There is none.

“There have been comments that people can surely do without a pint for 16 days but it is not about that. We are doing without any level of turnover for three weekends. The impact far outweighs someone not getting a pint.’’

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The Ubiquitous Chip is an institution in the West End of Glasgow but owner Colin Clydesdale , who also owns Stravaigin’ and the Hanoi Bike Shop restaurants in Glasgow, has never known times like this.

He said: “The Chip has been there for 50 years but it has never had a time of such bad trading. People are saying it is only 16 days but what are we coming back to? Are we all going to have to try and make our money selling lunches and a couple of cakes?

“We don’t have a clue what will happen next?

“I can’t conceive of the Chip not being there. It has been there since I was three but the truth is that if they keep legislating against us there is nothing we can do.’’

Music promoter Donald MacLeod, who runs the Garage and the Cathouse, believes it is nothing short of an all-out attack on drink.

He said: “Honestly, prohibition is what this is and people will not forget. I just repurposed The Garage last week – same with the Cathouse. I opened them up and we had a great reaction.

“We have got all the PPE and the thermal checkers and social distancing is strictly monitored so everything is safe but in one fell swoop Nicola Sturgeon has crashed the economy.

“As Taggart would say, there has been a murder, a murder of the whole Scottish hospitality.’’

The Scottish Licensed Trade Association warn that more than two-thirds of pubs, bars and restaurants “could be mothballed or go under”, while more than half the sector’s jobs could go.

And UK hospitality director for Scotland Willie Macleod called on the First Minister to map out the details of how they can avoid meltdown.

He said: “This is a total catastrophe. Scottish hospitality is already on the brink and is unable to look ahead with any degree of confidence.

“Forced closures will spell the end for many, many venues which have no cash flow and will have exhausted their reserves.

“Severe restrictions to those businesses not forced to close will amount to a closure for many. It is likely to be the final straw for many that were only just hanging on. We are going to see businesses fold and many jobs lost.

“The First Minister stated that hospitality was by far the most impacted of sectors and we now need urgent confirmation of the details of the support package and how it will be applied.

“Without detail, it looks as though the £40m announced by the First Minister will not nearly be sufficient to support the sector.

“Any support to underwrite furlough will have to go far beyond the Job Support Scheme, which seems unlikely to be taken up by many hospitality businesses.

“We also need a route map for those businesses in the five health board areas across the Central Belt forced to close. We must have a clear plan for their reopening. We cannot afford to be left in limbo.

“It will just mean businesses unable to plan, employees worried for their jobs, consumer confidence shattered and businesses all the more likely to fail.