Sturgeon extends hospitality restrictions as Scotland heads for tiered system

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

Sturgeon extends hospitality restrictions as Scotland heads for Coronavirus alert tiered system

Related tags: Scotland, Coronavirus, lockdown

Restaurants, pubs and bars across Scotland’s central belt will have to remain closed for at least a further week, as leaders work on a tiered system for the country.

Speaking earlier this afternoon (21 October), First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said that while there is 'cautious optimism' the restrictions are having an effect, Scottish ministers had been advised that it would not be safe to lift measures on Monday (26 October) as originally planned.

Sturgeon ordered the shutdown of hospitality businesses across central Scotland, including in Glasgow and Edinburgh, on Friday 9 October, with licensed premises across the rest of the country temporarily banned from selling alcohol indoors and subject to a 6pm curfew on indoor service.

The closures applied to restaurants, pubs and bars in the five health board areas that cover the central belt, which include Greater Glasgow and Clyde; Lanarkshire; the Lothians; Ayrshire and Arran; and Forth Valley.

At the time the Scottish Hospitality Group (SHG), which comprises nine of the country’s largest independent hospitality operators and collectively employ over 6,000 people, declared that the First Minister had 'effectively signed a death sentence' for many businesses​ across the Scottish hospitality industry.

Sturgeon said today that the extension of the restrictions would allow the country to 'transition more smoothly' to its new tiered alert system, which she hopes will be introduced on 2 November.

Details of a new system will be published on Friday (23 October), and like the English model will see varying degrees of Coronavirus restrictions applied in different areas.

The First Minister added that financial support will be extended to help businesses affected by the measures, and the Scottish Government will outline levels of support to be offered to operators in the new tiered system upon its announcement.

“I know all of this is really unwelcome and I know that these restrictions are harsh,” she said.

“They are harsh financially for many individuals and businesses, and they are harsh emotionally for all of us.

“I want to stress again that none of these decisions are being taken lightly - this is all about trying to save lives and minimise the health damage that we know this virus is capable of doing.”

Commenting on the extension, SHG spokesperson Stephen Montgomery said: “Recent restrictions were framed as a ‘temporary shock', but the extension is an indication that we can only expect a continued Government stranglehold on hospitality that will have devastating consequences.

“We knew that next week would be pivotal for many businesses as furlough comes to an end. With current restrictions remaining in place until 2 November, and no indication of what the new tier system will entail, the financial support package must be increased or countless venues will be forced to close for good, and tens of thousands of people will lose their jobs.  

"Every business is facing a unique situation. Some operators outside the central belt have been forced to close as they cannot trade viably under the current restrictions, leaving them not eligible for full Scottish Government support or able to access the new furlough scheme. 

“We have done everything asked to help combat the spread of Coronavirus and we now plead with the First Minister to sit down with us and for all politicians to visit our premises to see for themselves. We must work together on a flexible funding model and long-term strategic approach that saves jobs and protects livelihoods. 

“Scotland's bars and restaurants have demonstrated again and again that they are willing to work with government and be part of the solution to stop the spread of coronavirus. Without further financial support, Scotland’s hospitality industry will be crippled to the point of no return.” 

Related topics: Business & Legislation

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