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Nicola Sturgeon announces new tier restrictions for three council areas Scotland - here's what that means for pubs and restaurants

Pubs, restaurants and cafes in most of Scotland are being barred from selling alcohol indoors for more than two weeks, as part of efforts to curb Covid-19, Nicola Sturgeon has announced.

Published: October 7, 2020
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As the number of Covid-19 cases rises in Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon has announced stricter restrictions in Scotland.

Tougher restrictions are being introduced in three parts of Scotland to combat rising levels of coronavirus - but no council areas will yet be subject to a level four lockdown.

What are the new restrictions?

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced Angus, Fife and Perth and Kinross are to move into level three restrictions from Friday 13 November.

That means 21 of Scotland's 32 local authorities are now in this level - the second highest under the country's five-tier system of measures.

Tier level three restrictions mean that restaurants, cafes, pubs and bars can open indoors and outdoors for the consumption of food and non alcoholic drinks as alcoholic drinks cannot be served.

Last entry is 5pm and all venues must be closed and all customers off the premises by 6pm.

Announcing the results of the first review of levels under the new system on Tuesday, Ms Sturgeon warned there are "still tough times ahead" after the country recorded 832 confirmed new Covid-19 cases in the past 24 hours.

The latest daily figures also showed 39 more deaths were registered as a result of the virus.

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Speaking about the decision to move Angus, Fife and Perth and Kinross into level three, the First Minister told MSPs at Holyrood: "The most recent data shows that, in the space of a week, the seven-day number of cases per 100,000 of the population has increased in Perth and Kinross by 32%, in Fife by 40% and in Angus by 47%.

"The advice of the chief medical officer and national clinical director is that Level 2 restrictions may not be sufficient to slow down and reverse increases of this magnitude and, as a result, an early move to Level 3 was strongly recommended."

The move means these areas, like authorities already in level three in the central belt, Dundee and Ayrshire, will face tougher restrictions on hospitality.

Ms Sturgeon made clear she will not "shy away" from imposing the toughest level four restrictions if they are deemed necessary.

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This level requires non-essential shops to close, along with businesses such as bars, restaurants, gyms and hairdressers.

Ms Sturgeon stressed: "We will not take a decision to move any part of the country to that level lightly.

"But nor will we shy away from it if we think it necessary to limit the damage the virus can do."

Travel restrictions continue to be an "essential" part of the multi-tiered approach being taken in Scotland, Ms Sturgeon said, with people living in Level 3 areas advised not to travel outside their own local authority.

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While ministers have been considering putting this guidance into law, Ms Sturgeon said this will not happen yet.

Industry reaction

Will Docker of Fife's Balgove said: “It’s disappointing that Fife is going to move to Level three but we absolutely understand the need to be cautious and work together to prevent the spread of Coronavirus.

"At Balgove Larder, we’ve been able to open our business throughout this difficult year – albeit with restrictions around certain elements.

"Our farm shop, home store, florist and online shop will certainly stay open as they did throughout lockdown and at the moment, I’d envisage that we’ll be able to keep our Steak Barn and Café open too.

"The difficulty for us, as with other businesses is the importance of keeping up to date with the constantly changing regulations. Level three, for example, brings increased restrictions around alcohol sales.

"We’ve seen demand for alcohol sales reduce in the last few months and we’ve also noticed a reduction in trade from Dundee as they entered Level three ahead of us. I think the main impact we’ll see in the short term is an public concern which reduces the desire to get out and about and visit businesses.

"However, at the end of the day I feel our customers have appreciated our services and the strength of our top quality local produce more than ever before and that won’t change: really good food is one of the rare ways you can treat yourself at the moment."

Rosie Jack, manager at Bowhouse, also in Fife added:  “We’re really sad to hear of the rise in local Coronavirus cases that has necessitated Fife's move to Tier Three.

"Unfortunately, this means that we’ll have to cancel the market weekend that the team has all been working so hard to put on.

"However, our online market, Bowhouse Link was built with this in mind and is able to be resilient here. This allows local people to access food and drink that’s been locally produced for local delivery or collection.

"While we hope to bring the market weekends back again soon, we will be focusing on supporting producers to sell their food and drink via Bowhouse Link.”

A spokesperson for The Kinneuchar Inn said: “The shift in rules on entering Tier 2 (as opposed to the blanket approach to pubs/restaurants before) was extremely welcome.

"The slightly extended hours allowed us to restart a supper service and the serving of alcohol has made a huge difference to our viability.

"We recognise that it is responsible to adapt how we work to the shifting status of the virus, but we struggle with the short-term shifts which impact us hugely in terms of sourcing and wastage (of beer in kegs, of fresh ingredients, etc) and of course the responsibility we feel towards our team and the economic realities of their own lives.

"We sincerely believe that the responsible manner in which we are operating the business does not pose an undue risk to our staff, our customers or our community and we earnestly hope that we will continue to be able to run the Inn in a way which is commercially sustainable. "

Stephen Gow, general manager of The Chester Hotel in Aberdeen said: "After another period of being told there will be changes to the licensed trade, it's good that we finally know what is happening and we can plan operationally for today's modifications and rules.

"It's another big blow for the hospitality sector. A further lockdown following the national and local Aberdeen ones would have been catastrophic. But, at The Chester Hotel, we will be able to continue to operate within the newly altered set of regulations.

"We plan to open for food and drink from Wednesday to Sunday only during the ‘circuit break' period, serving food and non-alcoholic drink indoors until 6pm. We'll be removing the sides of our marquee at the front of the hotel and from there we can serve food and alcoholic drinks from noon until 10pm. Our bedrooms will be closed on Sundays, Mondays and Tuesdays for the next two weeks.

"The north east elements will be a determining factor in how we can continue to operate across the next 16 days. We're asking people who book outdoors with us to please come dressed appropriately. We can provide quality food and drink and excellent customer service but it's impossible for us to heat fresh air."

The team at the Tally Ho bar in Edinburgh posted: "Shocking but not unexpected news from the First Minister as she blames hospitality for everything regardless of the prevention measures introduced in places like ours. We are still digesting her announcement but the Tally will be closed from 6pm on Friday for two weeks.

"I think we can still offer takeaways, and I am waiting on the guidance being published.

"We therefore appreciate your support to date and hope that you can make your way to the Tally between now and 6pm on Friday to say hello before we have to close the doors again.

"If we can do takeaways this is a small bonus and may help keep #teamtally staff employed and earning an income which is all we try and do each week since March. Thank you for your support again."

Chef Nick Nairn, who spoke to us on our Scran podcast during lockdown tweeted his anger: "Well I didn’t see that coming TOTAL SHUTDOWN with a review in 16 days.

"Devastating for an industry that’s worked its arse off to provide a Covid safe environment and keep it’s team employed . 40m divided between 15k businesses , lucky if that covers the 20% employers contribute."

Andy McCartney, director of Base Group, who owns Glasgow restaurant Glaschu, west end bar Embargo, The Ram’s Head in Maryhill and Damm 27 in Edinburgh said: "Sturgeon’s announcement this afternoon is another assault on hospitality. We overcame adversity in the spring, returning from lockdown to open our restaurant Glaschu, which we thought may never have the opportunity to open.

"It has been wonderful to watch it flourish and we have our brilliant staff and loyal customers to thank for this, but sadly the industry is now back on its knees.

"The only thing these new restrictions will achieve is to push the public into the supermarkets to buy alcohol and encourage unregulated mixing of households and house parties.

"As the owners of an eclectic mix of restaurants, bars and pubs, which includes a pub frequented by football fans, it appears to us that there’s a political element to the timing of these new restrictions with the Old Firm game approaching.

"Pubs, restaurants and bars have built in regulations since long before Covid to manage the safe consumption of alcohol and our staff have the training to offer the safest environment to our guests.

"The closure of our services is unbalanced with the economic impact it will have on our industry. We eagerly await further information on the financial support package from the Scottish Government.”

Stuart Cook, joint managing director at Harviestoun Brewery, which is based at Alva, near Stirling, said: “This is a devastating blow to both breweries and pubs around Scotland.

"Pubs shutting initially for the lockdown meant a devastating 75 per cent of our revenue disappeared overnight.

"Thankfully, a nimble change in strategy to online sales allowed us to get through what was undoubtedly one of the toughest times the brewery has known. We’ve seen a record 2000% increase in online beer and lager sales since launching our new next-day home delivery service during lockdown.

“Our deliveries to pubs and restaurants started back up in July, but are on hold again in the central belt of Scotland until an expected reopening date of October 25th.

"Just as the Scottish on-trade was starting to recover though, these measures will be a devastating blow to both the local breweries and the pubs that they supply and partner with.

"All we can do at Harviestoun is continue to ramp up our online next day delivery service and hope that, for the sake of all our wonderful On Trade Licensees and customers that these measures do not extend past October 25th.

"There's a balance there and those outside the central belt will still be open to a degree, albeit the weather will be a major factor."


Known for cake making, experimental jam recipes, Champagne and gin drinking (and the inability to cook Gnocchi), Rosalind writes for The Scotsman on all things food and drink related as well as hosting Scran, The Scotsman's food and drink podcast.

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