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Tue 14th Dec 2021 - Scotland returns to social distancing in pubs and restaurants but £100m made available to help businesses
Scotland returns to social distancing in pubs and restaurants but £100m made available to help businesses: Social distancing will return to pubs and restaurants in Scotland over the crucial festive period, first minister Nicola Sturgeon announced today (Tuesday, 14 December). Measures will be introduced to avoid crowding at bars and between tables, while businesses will be reminded of their requirement to collect customers’ contact details to help with contact tracing, Sturgeon told the Scottish Parliament. In addition – and in a further blow to those venues still having Christmas party bookings – people in Scotland have been advised not to mix socially in groups of more than three households to help stop the spread of the Omicron variant. However, Sturgeon also revealed a £100m package would be made available to aid businesses in sectors, including hospitality, affected by the new covid restrictions. Sturgeon said: “We want to keep businesses open, but to achieve this we are asking them to step up the protections in place in their premises. We will issue guidance this week to make clear what that means for different sectors. For hospitality, it will mean, for example, measures to avoid crowding at bars and between tables, and a reminder of the requirement to collect contact details of customers to help with contact tracing.” Sturgeon went on to say it is now a legal duty for employers to enable staff to work from home, dealing a further blow to city centre venues relying on office workers for footfall, and urged hospitality staff who cannot work remotely to test regularly. Sturgeon went on to detail further restrictions on social gatherings, saying: “If you do plan on socialising at home or in indoor public spaces, we are asking that you limit the amount of households presented in your group to a maximum of three, and to test before you go.” Sturgeon also explained no money has currently been made available to the devolved governments from the UK government to compensate those businesses suffering from cancelled Christmas parties, but Holyrood itself has come up with a £100m package to provide some relief. “We have managed to identify from our own resources around £100m that we will use to help businesses, mainly those in hospitality and the food supply and culture sector, affected by our advice last week on work Christmas parties and further affected by what I have said today,” she added. “The finance secretary will be engaging with affected sectors immediately to consult on and confirm the details of support, and we will work to make money available as soon as possible. There are further steps we could and would have taken today, particularly around hospitality, had we the financial ability to do so.”

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