Nicola Sturgeon's booze ban a 'catastrophe' says hospitality expert

Scottish hospitality bosses label Nicola Sturgeon’s pubs closure and booze ban a ‘catastrophe’ that will be the ‘final straw’ for hundreds of venues

  • Nicola Sturgeon has banned drinking inside pubs and restaurants from Friday 
  • Businesses face 6pm closing time and have been shut in large parts of Scotland
  • UKHospitality says the decision from the SNP’s leader is a ‘total catastrophe’  

Hospitality bosses have described a decision to stop Scottish pubs and restaurants selling alcohol and closing them at 6pm each day as a ‘total catastrophe’ that will be the ‘final straw,’ for hundreds of venues.

Nicola Sturgeon set out new measures today that she hopes will curb the spread of coronavirus around Scotland.

But experts in the pub industry fear many businesses face closure under the new measures. 

Ms Sturgeon said £40million would be made available for for stricken firms, but the Scottish hospitality industry fears many businesses will go under. 

UKHospitality Executive Director for Scotland Willie Macleod said: ‘This is a total catastrophe. Scottish hospitality is already on the brink and is unable to look ahead with any degree of confidence.

‘Forced closures will spell the end for many, many venues which have no cash flow and will have exhausted their reserves.  

Nicola Sturgeon has banned the sale of alcohol in Scottish pubs and restaurants for 16 days under new Covid-19 regulations

From Friday, there will be no alcohol for sale at pubs, and a new 6pm closing time will come into effect

The SNP leader warned politicians in Holyrood today that Covid-19 cases had started to surge among the older population, as she introduced the alcohol ban, which will last for at least 16 days from Friday.

In five ‘hotspot’ areas pubs will be closed altogether apart from takeaways until October 26 and people will be advised against using public transport.

Mr Mcleod added: ‘Severe restrictions to those businesses not forced to close will amount to a closure for many. 

‘It is likely to be the final straw for many that were only just hanging on. We are going to see businesses fold and many jobs lost.

‘The First Minister stated that hospitality was by far the most impacted of sectors and we now need urgent confirmation of the details of the support package and how it will be applied. 

‘Without detail, it looks as though the £40m announced by the First Minister will not nearly be sufficient to support the sector. 

‘Any support to underwrite furlough will have to go far beyond the Job Support Scheme, which seems unlikely to be taken up by many hospitality businesses.

Willie MacLeod fears the new measures announced by Nicola Sturgeon could spell the end for pubs and restaurants already struggling due to Covid-19 restrictions

The number of daily cases in Scotland has risen from under 300 two weeks ago – when a ban on households mixing indoors was introduced – to see 1,054 reported today

‘We also need a route map for those businesses in the five health board areas across the central belt forced to close. 

‘We must have a clear plan for their reopening. We cannot afford to be left in limbo. It will just mean businesses unable to plan, employees worried for their jobs, consumer confidence shattered and businesses all the more likely to fail. 

‘The Government has to move quickly to save businesses and keep jobs alive.’ 

Ms Sturgeon said that indoor hospitality venues will only be allowed to operate between 6am and 6pm daily, selling food and non-alcoholic drinks only.

Outdoor bars, restaurants and cafes will be allowed to remain open up until 10pm and will be allowed to sell alcohol up to that time.

The restrictions will come into force at 6pm on Friday and are intended to end after October 25.

However, all licensed premises in the Greater Glasgow and Clyde, Lanarkshire, Ayrshire and Arran, Lothian and Forth Valley health board areas will be closed for both indoor and outdoor operations.

The Scottish government’s latest slides show the growing coronavirus case rate north of the border

Cafes without a licence to sell alcohol will be allowed to open until 6pm, the First Minister said, to counter social isolation.

People in the central belt of Scotland have been asked to avoid public transport unless absolutely necessary in the next two weeks.

While a travel restriction is not being enforced on people in those five areas, Ms Sturgeon urged those living in these areas not to travel beyond their own health boards.

Ms Sturgeon insisted it was her ‘firm intention’ that the clampdown will end after two weeks.

‘It is our firm intention these measures will be lefted at the end of two weeks… but obviously it stands to reason we will moitor the virus between now and then.’ 

She said: ‘Let me be clear. We are not going back into lockdown today.

‘We are not closing schools, colleges or universities.

‘We are not halting the remobilisation of the NHS for non-Covid care. And we are not asking people to stay at home.

Figures tracking the crucial R number for the virus also show an alarming increase since September 

‘So while the measures I announce today will feel like a backward step, they are in the interests of protecting our progress overall.

‘It is by taking the tough but necessary action now, that we hope to avoid even tougher action in future.’

Scottish government modelling released today suggested that without ‘further intervention’ the daily number of coronavirus cases could reach 35,000 by Christmas. 

The number of daily cases has risen from under 300 two weeks ago – when a ban on households mixing indoors was introduced – to see 1,054 reported today. 

Sturgeon calls time: Scotland’s new Covid regulations in full

  • All pubs, restaurants and cafes barred from selling alcohol indoors for 16 days.
  • They will additionally face a curfew forcing them to close by 6pm each evening.
  • Outdoor bars, restaurants and cafes will be allowed to remain open up until 10pm and will be allowed to sell alcohol up to that time. 
  • In five areas of Scotland’s Central Belt – which includes Edinburgh and Glasgow – there will be additional restrictions on opening.
  • Pubs, restaurants and licenced cafes in the ‘hotspots’ of Greater Glasgow & Clyde, Lanarkshire, Ayrshire & Arran, Lothian, and Forth Valley, will be forced to close to all but takeaway customers. 
  • The measures come into force at 6pm on Friday for 16 days until October 25.  
  • Residents of these areas have also been urged to avoid public transport unless absolutely necessary in the next two weeks. They should only use it to get to work, school or for other unavoidable journeys. 
  • Outdoor live events will be banned in the five areas for the next two weeks.
  • Snooker and pool halls, indoor bowling alleys, casinos and bingo halls will close in these areas for two weeks from October 10.
  • Contact sports and indoor group exercise for those aged 18 and over is suspended for the same period.
  • Face coverings will become mandatory in indoor communal settings.
  • An additional £40 million in funding will be made available to businesses impacted by the new restrictions.

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