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.

As the number of Covid-19 cases rises in Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon has announced stricter restrictions in Scotland, which will take place this month.

Coming into place from 6pm on Friday 9 October, the restrictions were supposed to run until Sunday 25 October, but have been extended until 6am on 2 November and continue to affect hospitality businesses in Scotland.

What are the new restrictions?

New restrictions have been placed on the hospitality industry across Scotland, with tougher changes made in the central belt.

Announcing changes to coronavirus measures in Holyrood, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said that indoor hospitality venues will only be allowed to operate between 6am and 6pm daily, selling food and non-alcoholic drinks only.

Outdoor bars, restaurants and cafes will be allowed to remain open up until 10pm and will be allowed to sell alcohol up to that time.

However, all licensed premises in the Greater Glasgow and Clyde, Lanarkshire, Ayrshire and Arran, Lothian and Forth Valley health board areas will be closed for both indoor and outdoor operations.

Cafes without a licence to sell alcohol will be allowed to open until 6pm, Nicola Sturgeon said, to counter social isolation.

This has since changed to include licensed cafes, who can trade between the hours of 6am-6pm but not serve alcohol.

In these areas, people should only use public transport when necessary, such as travelling to work, school or other unavoidable reasons. Anyone who can work from home still should.

While a travel restriction is not being enforced on people in the central belt, Ms Sturgeon urged those living in these areas not to travel beyond their own health boards.

Nicola Sturgeon said she was “grateful” for the work done by hospitality businesses to stop the spread of coronavirus, as she announced these new measures.

She added: “Significantly restricting licensed premises for 16 days temporarily removes one of the key opportunities the virus has to jump from household to household.

“It is an essential part of our efforts to get the R number significantly below 1.”

An additional £40 million in funding will be made available to businesses impacted by new restrictions.

Industry reaction

Roberta Hall-McCarron of Edinburgh’s Little Chartroom said: “It’s quite a daunting time, the support that was mentioned is really unclear and will leave a lot of businesses worried until more information is announced.

“I think this is even worse than the initial lockdown, back then we had the full furlough scheme and decent government support packages.

“I am not really surprised by the announcement as many other countries are testing this too.

“We will be keeping our delivery service going and offering everyone who has booked in with us over the next two weeks a takeaway meal.

“We will also be re-opening our pop-up, The Little Chartroom on the Prom this weekend. This will help us keep our staff and our heads above water.”

“It’s quite a daunting time, the support that was mentioned is really unclear and will leave a lot of businesses worried until more information is announced. I think this is even worse than the initial lockdown, back then we had the full furlough scheme and decent government support packages.

“I am not really surprised by the announcement as many other countries are testing this too. We will be keeping our delivery service going and offering everyone who has booked in with us over the next two weeks a takeaway meal. We will also be re-opening our pop-up, The Little Chartroom on the Prom this weekend. This will help us keep our staff and our heads above water.”

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.”

 

About The Author

Rosalind Erskine

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.

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