Hospitality groups carrying out a legal action against the Scottish Government’s coronavirus restrictions claim their proposals have been paid “little more than lip service”.
The Scottish Beer and Pub Association, The Scottish Licensed Trade Association, UKHospitality (Scotland), the Scottish Hospitality Group and the Night Time Industries Association Scotland jointly served a pre-action letter last week.
It came amid concerns over the impact new lockdown restrictions will have on the sector.
The group now claims to have received a response four minutes before its deadline.
Spokesman Paul Waterson said on Wednesday: “Now that the Scottish Government has formally responded to the group’s pre-action letter, the group will now follow proper protocols and digest, consult and scrutinise the contents and will subsequently release a more substantial response at the appropriate time.
“All our operators in the licensed hospitality sector and the staff that this industry employs have been eagerly awaiting this response.
“We reiterate that we all understand and entirely support the goal of suppressing the virus but our sector is in crisis and the announcements and debate in Parliament yesterday give us no real grounds for optimism in the future.”
He added: “Despite intensive discussions over the weekend and industry proposals for an alternative tier system and support scheme, requested by Government officials, which would help the industry survive not only operationally but financially, these have been given little more than lip service.
“Representatives of the group certainly do not consider these recently increased engagement opportunities as following proper consultation procedures given the short time afforded.”
A letter was sent by solicitors to Scottish ministers challenging the legal basis of recent restrictive legislation relating to the hospitality sector.
It followed receipt of an opinion from Aidan O’Neill QC on the merits of proceeding with judicial review of the legislation.
A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “We have responded to the letter.
“The Scottish Government fully understands the challenges facing the sector as we look to balance suppression of the virus and protecting lives with keeping hospitality businesses open and trading viably.
“We will continue to build upon the constructive dialogue we have had with industry and listen carefully to their concerns as we move into the new levels framework.”