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Wed 7th Oct 2020 - Scottish hospitality subject to 6pm indoor curfew and banned from selling alcohol inside from Friday in ‘catastrophic’ move for sector
Scottish hospitality subject to 6pm indoor curfew and banned from selling alcohol inside from Friday in ‘catastrophic’ move for sector: Pubs, restaurants and cafes in Scotland will have to close indoors at 6pm from Friday (9 October) and will be banned from selling alcohol indoors entirely – a move trade bodies have described as “catastrophic” for the sector. First minister Nicola Sturgeon said the restriction would be in place for two weeks. During the day, from 6am to 6pm, venues will be able to open indoors for the service of food and non-alcoholic drinks only. Hotel restaurants will be able to operate beyond 6pm, but only for residents and without alcohol. Bars, pubs, restaurants and cafes can continue to serve alcohol outdoors up to the existing curfew time of 10pm, and subject to the rules on group size. There will be an exemption to these rules – in all parts of Scotland – for celebrations associated with specific life events such as weddings that are already booked and funerals. All the current regulations and the limits on meeting a maximum of six people from two households will still apply. Meanwhile, pubs and licensed cafes in five Scottish health board areas – Greater Glasgow & Clyde, Lanarkshire, Ayrshire & Arran, Lothian and Forth Valley – must shut to all but takeaway customers for more than two weeks. Cafes that don’t have an alcohol licence will be able to stay open until 6pm to support social isolation. In addition, snooker and pool halls, indoor bowling alleys, casinos and bingo halls will close in these areas for two weeks from Saturday (10 October). An additional £40m in funding will be made available to businesses impacted by new restrictions. Sturgeon said the Scottish government would work to target the support to businesses most in need. She said: “We are particularly concerned about Greater Glasgow & Clyde, Lanarkshire, Ayrshire & Arran, Lothian and Forth Valley. However, numbers are rising across Scotland. So the need to act – and to act across the country – is clear. What is also clear is the need to take additional action now. Without action – and this is perhaps the starkest warning in today’s evidence paper – we are likely to return to the peak level of infections we had in the spring by the end of this month.” Willie Macleod, UKHospitality executive director for Scotland, said: “This is a total catastrophe. Scottish hospitality is already on the brink and is unable to look ahead with any degree of confidence. Forced closures will spell the end for many, many venues which have no cash flow and will have exhausted their reserves. Severe restrictions to those businesses not forced to close will amount to a closure for many. It is likely to be the final straw for many that were only just hanging on. We are going to see businesses fold and many jobs lost. The first minister stated hospitality was by far the most impacted of sectors and we now need urgent confirmation of the details of the support package and how it will be applied. Without detail, it looks as though the £40m announced will not nearly be sufficient to support the sector. Any support to underwrite furlough will have to go far beyond the Job Support Scheme, which seems unlikely to be taken up by many hospitality businesses. We also need a route map for those businesses in the five health board areas across the central belt forced to close. We must have a clear plan for their reopening. We cannot afford to be left in limbo. It will just mean businesses unable to plan, employees worried for their jobs, consumer confidence shattered and businesses all the more likely to fail. The government has to move quickly to save businesses and keep jobs alive.” Stephen Montgomery, spokesman for the Scottish Hospitality Group, added: “The first minister has effectively signed a death sentence for many businesses across the Scottish hospitality industry, while the real problem is socialising at home. We have repeatedly implemented the safety measures required by government and more to protect our customers and staff. 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 lock-down areas if this becomes indefinite. While some premises may remain open, banning alcohol indoors will mean 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 restrictions have to be put in place but decisions must be based on evidence, anything else is disproportionate and unfair. As well as the public health risks of shutting down the Scottish hospitality sector, the economic cost will be catastrophic for an industry worth £10.6bn 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.”

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