Allow all Scottish pubs to serve alcohol after lockdown, sector urges

By Emily Hawkins

- Last updated on GMT

Levels system: Scottish trade bodies have slammed the tiered system of restrictions and said pubs need a system that makes it worth reopening (image: Getty/Asvolas)
Levels system: Scottish trade bodies have slammed the tiered system of restrictions and said pubs need a system that makes it worth reopening (image: Getty/Asvolas)

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Scottish trade associations have called on the Government to change its levels system for hospitality and allow all pubs to serve alcohol.

The united call comes from the Scottish Hospitality Group, UK Hospitality Scotland, Scottish Licensed Trade Association, Night Time Industries Association and the Scottish Beer & Pub Association.

It was not viable for the sector to reopen with pre-lockdown rules as set out in the Scottish Government’s Strategic Framework, they said.

Under level three measures, no alcohol sales are permitted indoors or outdoors and pubs must close at 6pm with last entry at 5pm.

In areas subject to level two rules, alcohol can only be sold indoors with a main meal and pubs must close at 8pm, with last entry at 7pm. For outdoor trade, alcohol can be sold without a meal and venues must close at 10.30pm with last entry at 9.30pm. 

Curfew limits

Sector bodies have asked for level three to permit alcohol with a meal indoors, with last entry at 8.30pm and a closing time of 10.30pm. This would involve two-hour time slots for guests and seated consumption only with no queuing. 

For outdoor service, pubs in level three should be allowed to serve alcohol without a meal and to close at 11.30pm, with last entry at 9.30pm.

This scenario would save more than 60,000 jobs and result in the sector contributing over £1.2bn to the economy, according to the coalition of trade bodies.

It would also ensure public health remains a priority, they said.

Analysis from economic consultancy BiGGAR Economics for the bodies found under current level three measures, 54% of hospitality businesses would operate. 

Hardest hit

Under the industry's proposed system, 73% of businesses could operate, generating a turnover of £927 million and supporting 53,300 jobs.

Trade leaders said they hoped Scotland would follow close to England’s nation-wide unlocking plans, with no meal requirements or curfews.

However, proposed changes to the level system would “remove any risk of vulnerable businesses failing at the eleventh hour,” according to Willie Macleod, executive director, Scotland for UK Hospitality.

Macleod added: (UKH) said: “The trade bodies have worked closely to propose workable reopening measures to Scottish Government which would improve the viability prospects of hospitality and licensed businesses which have been among the hardest hit in any sector over the past year. “

"The plan for reopening Scotland’s economy has to acknowledge that hotels, bars and restaurants are still at severe risk and must place the survival of our sector, which will be integral to the economic recovery of the country, at its heart."

The Scottish Government has indicated it would review pre-lockdown measures to take into account changing elements of the pandemic, such as the vaccination rollout and highly-transmissible variants of the virus.

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