Here's why you can't drink outside in Edinburgh just now

Normally it is legal to have an alfresco drink in certain public places in the capital, but not right now.

Published 16th Apr 2021
Updated 8 th Aug 2023

As the sun is shining and with restrictions now eased on meeting outdoors, many of us will be keen to see friends and enjoy a drink in one of Edinburgh's public parks.

Areas such as the Meadows, Princes Street Gardens and Inverleith Park are popular with sun seekers looking to relax with a can of beer or tin of G&T.

But now, due to coronavirus restrictions, it is currently illegal to drink outdoors anywhere in Scotland.

In January 2021, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced that it would be illegal consume alcohol outside in all level four areas.

drink outside edinburgh

This falls under the The Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Restrictions and Requirements) (Local Levels) (Scotland) Regulations 2020, and those caught breaking the law could be fined.

Before the pandemic, local authorities had the power to make by-laws to prohibit alcohol being consumed in public places.

For example, it was legal to drink alcohol outside in areas of Edinburgh, but not in Glasgow, Aberdeen or Dundee.

There was a slight easing of of this in the summer of 2020 when takeaway pints became common and popular, but Glasgow City Council started to clamp down on these when beer gardens reopened.

Recently the Meadows has been at the heart of many gatherings in which people were drinking.

Because of this, extra police have been deployed and signs have gone up reminding people that it is currently illegal to drink outside.

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Much of this is witness and commented on by resident and famous crime writer Ian Rankin who recently tweeted about police breaking up groups of youths gathered at the popular site.

Known for cake making, experimental jam recipes, Champagne, whisky and gin drinking (and the inability to cook Gnocchi), Rosalind is the Food and Drink Editor and whisky writer for The Scotsman, as well as hosting Scran, The Scotsman's food and drink podcast.
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