Following an announcement earlier this week that tougher Coronavirus restrictions will be introduced for a three-week period after Christmas, John Swinney said today (23 December) that a new law would require nightclubs to close for the period rather than have them try to enforce one metre distancing between customers.
However, he added that nightclubs would have the option to stay open by effectively becoming a bar providing physical distancing and table service was in place.
Swinney added that funding would be made available to support affected businesses.
Addressing MSPs, he said: "We consider that closure in regulations, combined with financial support, may reduce losses and help these businesses weather what we hope will be a short period until they are able to operate normally again."
On Tuesday (21 December), First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced that Edinburgh's Hogmanay events are to be cancelled and football matches will be effectively spectator-free as part of a raft of rule changes that will come into force on 27 December for three weeks.
Under the rules, licensed hospitality venues will be required to operate table service only; while all indoor hospitality venues will be required to ensure there is a one metre distance between groups of people who are attending together.
In addition, from Boxing Day (26 December) attendance at large events will be limited to 100 people for indoor standing events, to 200 people for indoor seated events, and to 500 people for all outdoor events seated or standing.
Sturgeon told MSPs that the measures, which have been described as a 'knock-out blow' for operators, were intended to allow immunity from the accelerated booster vaccine programme to take effect.