As of Monday 28 February, the vaccine passport scheme will come to an end and as of Monday 21 March all other legal requirements, including wearing face masks, social distancing and retaining customer contact details, will also be lifted in Scotland.
UKHospitality Scotland (UKHS) executive director Leon Thompson said: “Hospitality businesses will be encouraged by the First Minister’s statement, with the move away from legal measures to a greater reliance on guidance.
“The removal of compulsory vaccine certification to enter late-night venues from next week is extremely welcome.
“These businesses have been required to undertake checks since last October and have suffered major financial losses as a result.
“However, it is disappointing the compulsory use of face coverings and test and protect in hospitality venues will remain in place until 21 March.
Road to recovery
“The updated strategic framework sets out a plan for living with Covid but we are some way off from Scotland’s hospitality sector recovering from two years of restrictions and closures, with costs rising across the board and a VAT rise due this April.
“At the very least, we need the UK Government to commit to keeping VAT at 12.5% beyond April and the Scottish Government to extend business rate relief of 50% by at least a further three months.”
Scotland’s First Minister (FM) Nicola Sturgeon yesterday (Tuesday 22 February) announced the update to the Governments Strategic Framework to manage the Covid pandemic.
Sturgeon announced the countries Covid threat level was currently at medium but expected this to be reduced to low in the coming weeks.
It is expected people will still be guided to wear face masks in hospitality venues and on public transport after 21 March, though it will no longer being a legal requirement after this date.
A spokesperson for the Scottish Beer & Pub Association (SBPA) said: “This announcement from the First Minister marks an important milestone in the road to recovery for pubs.
“Removing the remaining mitigations will give a real boost to the sector, however it is disappointing it will be another month before we see the total removal of all these legal restrictions.
“As we move to living with Covid as an endemic virus it is important the pub and brewing sector receive the necessary support and guidance to ensure a strong and sustainable recovery.
“The industry faces a perfect storm of rising inflation, increased costs, supply chain difficulties, labor shortages, with a backdrop of record levels of debt.
Generating a sustainable recovery
“We’re urging Governments in Holyrood and Westminster to support the sector’s recovery by continuing to reduce the punitive tax burden on our sector to ensure the sustainability of brewing and pubs, and help us regenerate our cities, towns and villages up and down the country.”
It is expected the rules on self-isolation will remain in place for the time being.
Those who test positive for Covid in Scotland, and have been fully vaccinated, are required to self-isolate for seven days and record two negative lateral flow tests with no fever before ending isolation.
While the sector has welcomed the news of Covid restrictions being lifted, Night-Time Industries Association (NTIA) Scotland stated the “economic harm inflicted on the late-night economy” would take years to recover from.
A spokesperson for NTIA Scotland said: “We must now be given the opportunity to trade consistently and viably for the long term if businesses are to survive, and Scottish Government must now focus on generating a sustainable recovery.
“It is vital the government now work with businesses to create a more favourable trading environment which enables at least partial recovery of the billions of pounds lost during this crisis."