New rules 'kill Christmas' for Scottish pubs

By Rebecca Weller

- Last updated on GMT

Nicola Sturgeon: Tighter coronavirus restrictions announced for pubs across Scotland just before Christmas
Nicola Sturgeon: Tighter coronavirus restrictions announced for pubs across Scotland just before Christmas

Related tags Scotland Coronavirus Omicron Social responsibility Health and safety

Nicola Sturgeon announced yesterday (14 December 2021) the reinstitution of tighter coronavirus restrictions for pubs across Scotland such as social distancing and data collection for contact tracing.

The Scottish First Minister (FM) also announced hospitality staff should increase lateral flow testing but offered some reassurance by dedicating ‘around £100m’ to help businesses, with particular focus on the hospitality and food supply industries.

Scottish Beer & Pub Association (SBPA) CEO Emma McClarkin said: “This is another bitter blow to Scotland’s pubs, the advice to cancel Christmas parties last week already devastated the sector and these further restrictions effectively create lockdown by the backdoor. 

“Pubs needed all the trade they could get this Christmas after taking on significant debts during the pandemic and without furlough support to fall back on, it is very worrying for businesses and staff.

“It is critical full details of the restrictions are published imminently, so businesses can understand and plan for their enforcement.

Killing Christmas 

“Covid isolation rules are also having an impact on business viability, and we will also be raising this with Government in discussions over the next few days.”

The FM also urged the Scottish public to ‘break transmission chains’ by minimising mixing with different households at home or at indoor venues, by restricting social interactions to three households at a time.

Scottish Licensed Trade Association (SLTA) managing director Colin Wilkinson said: “The shutdown of the licensed hospitality industry, effectively by stealth, puts most businesses in an even worse scenario than last Christmas when there was some finance available via Government grants and the furlough scheme was in place.

“While the restrictions we feared have not yet been imposed, there still remains a great deal of uncertainty for our industry which was beginning to recover, albeit slowly, and looking forward to reasonably good prospects during the key festive trading period.

“Last week’s call from Public Health Scotland not to have festive parties – endorsed the next day by the First Minister – killed Christmas and, I fear, will kill some businesses who will not survive without financial support.”

Despite the £100m financial support offered by the Scottish Government to protect jobs, health, and livelihoods, many feared this was not enough, including Sturgeon, who called on the Westminster Government for funding.

Stark situation 

Sturgeon explained there were further steps the Scottish Government could, and would, have taken, particularly around hospitality, but simply did not have the funding to do so.

UKHospitality Scotland executive director Leon Thompson said: “Today’s announcement from the First Minister set out the stark situation we are facing as omicron spreads.

“Ensuring gatherings are limited to no more than three households and reducing crowding in some areas of venues will be challenging, but we will work with the Scottish Government to ensure guidance is clear and available quickly.

“The announcement of the financial support from the Scottish Government of £100m is very welcome but falls short of what is needed to help a sector hit hard by public heath messaging in the last week.

“UKHospitality Scotland will argue that additional aid announced by the Treasury must be used to extend a lifeline to hospitality businesses, workers and suppliers.”

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