Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced a series of new lockdown restrictions this afternoon, which bans all pubs, restaurants and cafe’s in the country from selling alcohol indoors for more than two weeks. Some parts of Scotland have had even stricter rules enforced, such as the forced closure of hospitality venues except for takeaways. The Scottish Hospitality Group (SHG) has condemned the move, and said the measures could cripple the entire industry.
The SHG, which comprises nine of the country’s largest independent hospitality operators and collectively employs over 6,000 people, said Ms Sturgeon had “effectively signed a death sentence for many businesses across the Scottish hospitality industry”.
Stephen Montgomery, the SHG’s official spokesman, said the real issue lies in social gatherings in people homes, not with pubs and restaurants.
He said: “We are part of the solution to combat this virus, not part of the problem. This latest blow from the Scottish Government will create fear and anger across our industry.
“This is not a ‘short, sharp shock’, rather a crippling stranglehold that will result in many Scottish pubs and restaurants unable to reopen in lockdown areas if this becomes indefinite.
Nicola Sturgeon has “effectively signed a death sentence” for the Scottish hospitality sector
Nicola Sturgeon announced a series of new lockdown restrictions this afternoon
“While some premises may remain open, banning alcohol indoors will mean that many smaller businesses, family operated and at the heart of local Scottish communities, will not survive past winter and the longer-term impact will be felt for years to come.
“We have repeatedly asked for scientific data from the Scottish Government to validate these escalating restrictions and yet we have been singled out, charged and found guilty without any supporting evidence.
“Similarly, there is no evidence that alcohol is a transmitter of coronavirus, yet people can eat out in a restaurant but will now be refused the choice of a glass of wine with their meal.
“We understand that restrictions have to be put in place but decisions must be based on evidence, anything else is disproportionate and unfair.
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“We have warned the Government that this approach is catastrophic for an industry which is vital to the fight against COVID-19.
“As well as the public health risks of shutting down the Scottish hospitality sector, the economic cost will be catastrophic for an industry worth £10.6 billion to the Scottish economy annually and which employs 285,000 people, many of whom are young Scots under 25.
“Countless jobs will be lost forever if businesses which are already on their knees are forced to close.
“If the hospitality sector is being singled out for specific restrictions then it is only fair that the Government provides sector specific financial compensation and while welcome in principle the £40million funding announced by the Scottish Government, we will need to see more detail on how this will actually work for our sector.”
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Pubs can continue to serve alcohol outdoors up to the existing curfew time of 10pm.
From Friday, pubs, restaurants and cafes will be banned from selling alcohol indoors for 16 days, until October 25.
The venues will be allowed to open from 6am-6pm for the service of food and non-alcoholic drinks only.
They can continue to serve alcohol outdoors up to the existing curfew time of 10pm.
Five health board areas – Greater Glasgow & Clyde, Lanarkshire, Ayrshire & Arran, Lothian, and Forth Valley – face stricter restrictions, with pubs and licensed cafes to shut to all but takeaway customers for the same period.
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Those living in the five areas under tighter lockdown rules have also been asked to avoid public transport unless absolutely necessary in the next two weeks, and use it only when travelling to work, school or for other unavoidable reasons.
Snooker and pool halls, indoor bowling alleys, casinos and bingo halls will close in these areas for two weeks from October 10, with contact sports and indoor group exercise for those 18 and over suspended for the same period.
Outdoor live events will be banned in the five areas for the next two weeks.
Scotland‘s First Minister revealed the “difficult but important temporary measures” aimed at curbing the spread of coronavirus in a statement at the Scottish Parliament on Wednesday afternoon.
Ms Sturgeon warned that without taking action, the country risks “returning to the peak level of infection by the end of the month”.