A LEADING Scottish restaurateur is calling for hospitality to be viewed as part of the solution to control the spread of coronavirus rather than the problem.

Colin Clydesdale, who owns Glasgow institution the Ubiquitous Chip, has commented as the new tier system comes into operation this week.

He has joined others in the trade expressing concern about the new system which places most of Scotland’s population in tier three, the second highest level where restaurants and pubs cannot serve alcohol and closing time is 6pm.

In contrast, restaurants in England’s tier three are able to serve alcohol with food until 10pm indoors.

“Whether it is an anomaly between the two different tiering systems or we are stuck between two opposing politics, the outcome is the same – tens of thousands of jobs in jeopardy,” said Clydesdale. “Our trade is probably more than 70% night-time and that is on food and drink. If it is down by two thirds that is two thirds of staff we can’t support.”

He said the jobs market was now looking “horrific” especially for young people, many of whom work in the hospitality industry.

“If hospitality was viewed as part of the solution instead of the problem that would help,” he said. “The police are having to break up thousands of unregulated house parties, whereas we are regulated. People can’t go to the pub so they go to each other’s houses. Rather than people being robbed of their social lives let us make it as safe as possible.”

The Scottish Government should be consulting with the licensed trade, he said, as most people within it wanted to help.

He was backed by fellow Glasgow restaurateur Jonathan MacDonald who said tier three in Scotland was a “no-man’s land”.

“If we were forced to close then we would be able to claim the full 67% furlough for our staff or if we were in tier three in England restaurants could open till 10 and serve alcohol so we would have a decent chance of trading meaningfully.

“Either would really be better for most places because if you are in tier three in Scotland it puts you in such a no man’s land that you can only serve food at lunchtime and can’t serve any alcohol.”

MacDonald pointed out that under the new job retention scheme that replaces furlough, employers have to top up the contribution from the government as well as pay National Insurance when they were unlikely to be making any profit under the restrictions.

“If the health experts say the right thing to do is close or close earlier then fine, but don’t let people’s employment security fall through the gaps because of a technicality or lack of foresight in aligning your scheme with the support available from the UK Treasury.”

MacDonald said he had written about his concerns to Nicola Sturgeon, Fiona Hyslop, Fergus Ewing and all the Glasgow MSPs last week but had only had a response from the two Labour members.

The Scottish Government said the new system avoided the need for a “one-size-fits-all approach”.