SCOTTISH Bakers, which represents the interests of bakery businesses in Scotland, has responded to Scottish Government’s announcement on Tuesday which set out plans for the country and businesses to re-open between now and April.
Scottish Bakers is calling for more clarity on the easing of Covid lockdown restrictions, particularly in relation to the current need for take-aways to serve from the door or through a window.
It is expected it will be the middle of this month before details are spelled out.
The Scottish Government said non-essential retail, hospitality and services, such as gyms and hairdressers, would not re-open before 26 April. But what is also needed is a clear plan for the lifting of current take-away restrictions. Current restrictions are crippling many bakeries in Scotland whose primary function is the sale of on-the-go foods such as sandwiches and lunchtime snacks.
When the rule stating that businesses providing takeaway food would need to operate on a ‘non-entry’ basis came into force in January, the association made it clear that bakeries in Scotland, whose primary function is the retail sales of baked goods, would continue to trade as a vital part of the food retail sector during this time.
For some bakers, however, who are predominantly focused on the sale of hot food or sandwiches to-go rather than providing a wider range of produce, they have been complying with the rules around customers not being able enter the premises when placing or collecting orders, by serving customers at their premises doors.
This has been done in a COVID-safe way but it has severely restricted footfall and many bakers have had to weigh up their commitment to the communities they serve against the economic impacts of fewer customers being able to access their products.
This has inevitably led to some bakers shutting their doors at this time.
Says Alasdair Smith, chief executive of Scottish Bakers: “It was great to hear from the First Minister that there is some light at the end of the tunnel but these take-away restrictions have further damaged revenue and, indeed, amongst our membership, we have seen many bakers closing for the duration of this restriction due to the near impossible trading conditions it has created.
“We now need to get these bakers back open to serve their customers once again with freshly baked bread, savoury snacks, sweet treats and food to-go.
“Local, high street bakers provide a vital life line in the communities they serve. Particularly in rural areas where, since March last year, local bakers have been providing home delivery and click and collect services supplying a range of basic items alongside freshly-baked goods for the most needy and isolated.
“If these businesses cannot make ends meet by operating a ‘through the door’ service then communities will suffer.”
“Bakery businesses in Scotland employ some 12,000 people contributing revenues of around £1.3 billion to the economy. The bakery sector is the second largest contributor to Scotland’s food and drink economy after beverages.”
Notes for editors:
Scottish Bakers added its name to a letter to Scottish Ministers from the Scottish Retail Consortium, along with other representative bodies, on Monday and Tuesday on click and collect and on food takeaway respectively
Scottish Bakers has consistently explained that shops have taken every mitigation possible to keep customers and staff as safe as possible. Bakers have invested significantly in physical distancing and hygiene measures. Recent papers from public health advisers SAGE and their Welsh counterparts, the Technical Advisory Group, had explained the closure of shops has only have a “very minimal impact” on R values and reducing the transmission of the virus.
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