Scotland is facing a series of draconian measures in order to halt the resurgence of coronavirus cases in the country. It has dealt a devastating blow to hotels, bars and restaurants who were already struggling to stay afloat.
Compared to England, Scotland had, until now, seemingly escaped the worst effects of the coronavirus crisis. However, a worrying spike in case numbers has occurred in the country's central belt, between the two major urban areas, Glasgow in the west and Edinburgh in the east.
What kind of restrictions is Scotland facing?
As of 18.00 BST on Friday, 9 October, pubs and restaurants can only open inside between 06:00 and 18:00 daily, and they will not be allowed to serve alcohol. They may serve food and non-alcoholic drinks. Alcoholic drinks may be sold outdoors until 22:00.
Hotel restaurants may serve food after 18:00, but only for residents, and alcohol will not be permitted. The so-called ‘rule-of-six’ still applies, meaning you can only congregate in a group of no more than 6 people from a maximum of two households. Face coverings will be compulsory in indoor communal settings such as staff canteens and staff rooms.
What are the tougher restrictions in Scotland’s central belt?
Because of the high rate of transmission in the central belt area, businesses are subject to even more severe restrictions. Between 9 and 25 October, in Greater Glasgow & Clyde, Lanarkshire, Ayrshire & Arran, Lothian, and Forth Valley, all licensed premises will have to close – indoors and outdoors. They may only serve takeaway. Cafes that don’t serve alcohol may stay open until 18:00 each day. There will be a review of the situation after 16 days.
What restrictions are in place for England?
For now, the north of England remains subject to the restrictions that apply to the whole country. Pubs, bars and restaurants must close at 22:00. This has caused much controversy as it has resulted in revellers at bars and restaurants spilling out onto the streets at the same time, many of them using public transport to get home. Establishments are restricted to table service only, and table bookings of more than six are not permitted.
What effect will the restrictions have on Scotland’s restaurants?
It’s hard to say, but many chefs are calling the total shutdown in Scotland a potentially fatal blow for the restaurant industry, at least in the central belt. Bar owners and restaurateurs will have to go back to the drawing board and look to fill the revenue void in anyway they can. Takeaway seems like the only option for many.
Undoubtedly, this is a very uncertain time for the many thousands of people employed in Scotland’s pubs and restaurants. Many restaurants had worked diligently and with great expense to ensure their venues were Covid compliant and the environment was safe for guests and staff.
Stephen Montgomery, spokesman for the Scottish Hospitality Group, warned the measures could have a deadly effect on the country's hospitality sector.
“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,” said Montgomery.
"We have repeatedly implemented the safety measures required by the 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 lockdown areas if this becomes indefinite.
"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."
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