Scotland curfew will 'exacerbate' sector's financial woes

By Emily Hawkins

- Last updated on GMT

Scottish lockdown: pub bosses have called on the Scottish Government to look at changing a midnight curfew (image: Getty/The Good Brigade)
Scottish lockdown: pub bosses have called on the Scottish Government to look at changing a midnight curfew (image: Getty/The Good Brigade)

Related tags Scotland lockdown Bbpa Curfew

Pub bosses in Scotland have bemoaned the continuation of a curfew when the country moves to its lowest level of Covid restrictions next week.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has announced Scotland will move to level zero of coronavirus restrictions on Monday 19 July.

This means pubgoers will no longer have to pre-book a two hour slot but will still be required to supply their contact details.

Ten people from up to four households can meet up in a venue from next week but customers must still wear face coverings unless they are seated to eat or drink.

Sturgeon said she hopes it will be possible to lift most restrictions on 9 August but some measures – such as mandatory mask wearing – were still needed.

The First Minister said maintaining some form of curfew was needed as indoor venues were relatively risky spaces “despite the sector’s sterling efforts”, especially at night when people have been drinking.

Venues have been subject to different curfews this year under the strategic levels framework in Scotland, depending on how well their region has fared in suppressing the spread of the virus.

Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the Scottish Beer & Pub Association called the new midnight curfew “hugely disappointing” and said it would “exacerbate the financial difficulty many hospitality businesses find themselves in".

Last minute change

She added: “The sector has suffered the brunt of the restrictions for over a year now and this last-minute change is another blow to the trade. The Scottish Government must look at reversing this decision or allocate further economic support to the businesses impacted.” 

Leon Thompson, UKHospitality Scotland executive director said the organisation’s members would be “relieved” by the announcement to progress to level zero. 

It means some businesses will finally be able to reopen after “many, many months” of closure, Thompson said.

He added: “However, hospitality continues to trade in a very difficult environment which will not improve until all major restrictions are removed. We had hoped to hear something definite on this. Instead, businesses burdened with expensive short-term debt will continue to struggle, unable to break-even whilst ongoing and seemingly endless restrictions continue.”

The trade body also called for a fresh package of financial support for businesses in Scotland which were now set to “fall further behind businesses in England.”

Cautious approach

Mask requirements will remain “for some time to come,” Sturgeon told the Scottish Parliament, marking a clear distinction between the end of lockdown laws in England when will see mask rules scrapped on 19 July.

She said: “We must stick to a cautious approach. We are easing restrictions next week, but we are not abandoning them.

"And even when we move beyond level zero, we will continue to require some baseline measures such as face coverings."

The country is set to do away with the 10 day isolation period for double vaccinated contacts of Covid positive individuals from 9 August.

Double jabbed close contacts will need a negative PCR test to avoid isolation.

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