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What do the new coronavirus restrictions mean for pubs and restaurants?

New restrictions will come into place from Friday 25 September.

Published: September 22, 2020
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Today, 22 September, Nicola Sturgeon announced new coronavirus restrictions including  a ban on indoor household visits and a curfew for pubs and restaurants.

These measures are to try and stop coronavirus from "spiralling out of control" in Scotland, Ms Sturgeon said.

The First Minister said she is "acutely aware" the new restrictions will not be welcomed but insisted they are "absolutely essential".

Ms Sturgeon also revealed that the Scottish Government is keeping the possibility of a time-limited "circuit breaker" lockdown under review, set out details of the changes shortly after Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed his plans for England.

What are the restrictions?

In addition to the ban on visiting others inside their homes, she said there will be a "strict nationwide curfew" for pubs and restaurants, starting at 10pm on Friday.

People are also advised not to share car journeys with anyone from outside their household.

Regulations enforcing the changes will come into place from Friday but Ms Sturgeon urged Scots to comply from Wednesday 23 September.

Some have questioned why pubs are still open when cases of the virus are spreading rapidly - 383 more people have tested positive in Scotland in the last 24 hours, with one further death - but the First Minister said the Scottish Government has a duty to balance action to curb the virus with the need to protect businesses.

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She hinted if the Scottish Government had greater borrowing powers or if it could extend the furlough scheme, greater restrictions might well have been imposed.

The First Minister said: "Today's measures - although tough - are not a lockdown. They are carefully targeted at key sources of transmission. And we believe they can make a significant difference while keeping our schools, public services and as many businesses as possible open."

She accepted "all of this is incredibly tough", adding six months on from lockdown being imposed "it only gets tougher". But she added: "Though we are all struggling with this - and believe me, we all are struggling - let's pull together.

"Let's keep going, try to keep smiling, keep hoping and keep looking out for each other."

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These measures follow on from restrictive measures already in place in the sector including compulsory mask wearing, household meeting restrictions of six people from two households and the music ban which has already impacted many venues.

Stuart McPhee, spokesperson of Aberdeen Hospitality Together (AHT), said: “We are fully aware of the rising numbers across Scotland and the UK wide, and will of course comply with measures however, we have employees to support and businesses to protect. In the current trading conditions that are being dealt to us, we are potentially placing many businesses on a knife-edge.

“With only 5 per cent of transmissions being related to hospitality, it really feels that our sector is becoming the scapegoats of this situation. It is our feeling that the curfew will simply move the problem and fuel house parties with no measures to manage the spread of the virus.

"This is something our sector can provide with robust guidance and test and protect procedures in place along with the approach that if any venues do not follow the guidance, they should be closed down and not the industry at large.”

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Tony Cochrane, Committee member of AHT and late night venue owner, continued: “In recent months, there has been a tightening of measures such as the music ban which has already dramatically impacted the atmosphere of venues not just late night bars but also for day time cafes and restaurants which rely on background music.

"In turn this has effected footfall and sales across venues in Scotland with many customers opting to stay at home or host their own parties.

“It is vital that we have financial packages in place or we face a make or break situation. Customer confidence is at an all-time low and businesses are facing financial ruin with the furlough scheme winding up at the end of October.

"Without an extension of this or the longer term extension of the VAT reduction, our sector will simply not survive.”

Chef Billy Boyter of The Cellar restaurant in Anstruther tweeted his frustration at the new rules, saying: "If this is true that restaurants need to close by 10pm, it needs a serious rethink. We are already operating with reduced covers. Spread booking times to avoid congestion. Our tasting menu can take some guest 3 hours to get though. I can’t see how this helps control the virus.

"I’m all for doing whatever is needed to help. The last rule change of no more than 2 households at a table, I understand that. But a restaurant having to be closed by 10? I see no benefit in that."

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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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