Industry welcomes relaxing of Covid-19 restrictions in Scotland

By Michelle Perrett

- Last updated on GMT

Industry opening up: Scottish pubs are set to reopen on 9 August (image: Getty/tumsasedgars)
Industry opening up: Scottish pubs are set to reopen on 9 August (image: Getty/tumsasedgars)

Related tags Scotland

The industry has welcomed news that restrictions are to be lifted in Scotland on 9 August.

The legal requirement for physical distancing and limits on gatherings will be removed on 9 August when all venues across Scotland are able to reopen.

However, some protective measures will stay in place such as the use of face coverings indoors and the collection of contact details as part of Test and Protect. There is also an easing of restrictions with adults no longer being automatically required to self-isolate for 10 days. 

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said:  “This change is significant and it is hard-earned. The sacrifices everyone has made over the past year and a half can never be overstated. However, while this move will restore a substantial degree of normality, it is important to be clear it does not signal the end of the pandemic or a return to life exactly as we knew it before Covid struck.” 

The Scottish Beer & Pub Association (SBPA) welcomed the announcement, which means that over 200 pubs​, which had remained closed due to restrictions, will now be able to open their doors to customers again.  

The trade association, however, warned that there was a ‘range of pressing challenges’ still impacting the sector and that Government support would be crucial in the recovery phase.  

It reiterated its concerns that 285 Scottish pubs are estimated to have closed down since the start of the pandemic and not expected to reopen.    

“This is the confirmation that so many in our sector have been desperate to hear. It is fantastic news for our pubs, which have suffered more than most sectors over the last 15 months. More than 200 Scottish pubs will now be able to reopen their doors for the first time from next Monday,” said chief executive of the SBPA Emma McClarkin. 

"Only from Monday can the recovery of our sector begin as we look to progress towards rebuilding, paying off accrued debts and welcoming customers fully once more. It is estimated Scotland has lost 285 pubs for good since the start of the pandemic and hundreds more remaining at risk, with a need to reduce the tax and regulatory burden that they face.” 

Consumer confidence

She added that consumer confidence also remains “fragile" and the ongoing requirement for face coverings and collection of customer contact information would have a “small impact” which must be recognised by Government.  

The Scottish Licensed Trade Association (SLTA) also welcomed the news. 

 “This is the best news the licensed hospitality industry has had for more than a year – it’s the news we’ve been waiting for and I’m sure there will be a few champagne corks popping to celebrate, at long last, a return to near normal trading," said Colin Wilkinson, SLTA managing director. 

“We are particularly relieved that physical distancing restrictions can be dropped as the one-metre rule made trading very difficult for some premises, particularly smaller ones – premises can now get back to operating at maximum capacity.” 

He said he hoped that mitigation measures such as masks and the continuation of track and trace in hospitality venues would be “a short-term requirement”. He added that he would be seeking clarification on a of number issues that SLTA members have already been asking. 

“Since today’s announcement the phone has been ringing with operators asking if customers can stand and drink at the bar, for example, and I hope to get clarification on this and more of the final detail by tomorrow at the latest when SLTA and other industry groups will meet with the Scottish Government,” he said. 

More detail

UKHospitality Scotland executive director Leon Thompson agreed: “However, it is not clear yet how the mandatory wearing of face coverings might continue to impact on venues where customers are likely to be standing, including in pubs and nightclubs. Businesses need more detail, along with a complete set of guidance from the Scottish Government - and they need it quickly."

UKHospitality Scotland is calling on the Scottish Government to continue to engage with the sector on issues like proposals for a vaccine passport and to identify ways to build the resilience of the sector. 

Pubgoers also welcomed the removal of restrictions. 

The Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) Scotland’s director Joe Crawford said​ “Requirements like table service have had a particularly devastating effect on our smaller, traditional locals. A further step towards normality will give all our pubs and social clubs the chance to trade at a normal capacity and turn a profit, as well as seeing the much-anticipated return of the authentic pub experience with people ordering from, and chatting at, the bar. 

He added: “CAMRA is urging everyone to support our pubs and the great local breweries that serve them in the weeks and months ahead, so our beloved locals can recover, thrive and continue to play a vital role at the heart of community life up and down the country. “ 


Related topics Legislation

Related news

Show more