AHEAD of an expected update tomorrow (Tue 16 March) to the Scottish Government’s Covid Strategic Framework – where it is expected that the Government will expand the list of essential retailers and confirm that click-and-collect services undertaken by non-essential retailers will end in early April – Scottish Bakers is calling for the rules around take-away food retailers to be relaxed.
The industry association, which supports bakers throughout Scotland, is concerned that restrictions placed on those bakers whose output is largely based around take-away food products is increasingly placing the future viability of these businesses at risk.
The curbs on food-to-go takeaway came into effect on 16 January despite many of these businesses implementing a wide range of COVID-safe measures in-store.
The sector has been hard hit by COVID, despite its vital role in preparing fresh bread and bakery products, daily. The sector employs 12,000 across Scotland and, during the first lockdown, 80 per cent of members furloughed staff with a significant proportion of the sector unable to trade; and the current rules around a ‘hole in the wall’ service is now one restriction too far.
Alasdair Smith, chief executive of Scottish Bakers, said: “We are supportive of the Government’s plan to ease lockdown measures and, with the recent statement from the Chancellor about furlough, there is cause for optimism, as bakers have a safety net as lockdown easing measures begin to take effect.
“But we must not forget our members whose take-away function has seen them have to change dramatically their business models.
“With no customers in-store ‘buying with their eyes’, and, combined with the stay-at-home order, footfall and sales have declined dramatically. We need to continue to push for our members, all essential food retailers, to be able to focus on the future and on growth.
“The Scottish Government must lay out a clear timeline for lock down restrictions to ease and to continue to support business sectors like our own who will need help to get back on their feet.
“One way of doing this is to ease the take-away ruling allowing bakers who sell predominately on-the-go food to safely allow customers back into their stores.
“We also want to see the hospitality sector opening safely as soon as possible, to help those members who have seen their business decimated by the closure of this vital section of the economy.
“Longer-term, the focus must be on skills and training to bring people into skilled sectors like our own and to train them in both food production and onward management skills to develop businesses long into the future.
“With a mix of realistic short and longer-term measures from our Government, bakers stand ready to play their part in building back the economy of Scotland and delivering us our daily bread.”
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