Call to scrap 2-metre rule

Pubs and restaurants want ‘controlled environments’

pubs and bars

Bar owners want a relaxation of the rules on drinkers

Pub and restaurant owners are calling for the Scottish Government to relax the two-metre rule by designating them and other small traders such as hairdressers and coffee shops as ‘controlled environments’.

They are asking for Scotland to follow the model adopted in New Zealand and Guernsey where  traders are asked to keep a list of customers in a track and trace system so that the social distancing guidelines  can be reduced.

Two-thirds of pub and restaurant businesses expect to remain closed when the tourism sector reopens on 15 July because the two-metre social distancing guidelines cannot be implemented.

A number of hospitality groups have come together to demand the Scottish Government falls in-line with the World Health Organisation’s guidance, which requires one-metre social distancing. 

Tourism minister Fergus Ewing announced the proposed date for reopening the tourism sector earlier this week and will issue further guidance next Thursday, but First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has shown no willingness to change the distancing measure.

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Graeme Arnott, director of Caledonian Heritable, one of the biggest independent pub and restaurant operators in the country, said: “Whilst Mr Ewing has given the industry a date to work towards, it will become inconsequential if two-thirds of the industry remain closed due to the unsustainable restrictions currently in place which will no doubt result in a devastating amount of jobs lost within the sector.

“Restaurants and pubs are a huge part of the Scottish economy and a huge employer as a result. This week alone, we have seen a tsunami of businesses  announce mass redundancies, and we can expect this to continue if we cannot see a step-change towards reducing this two-metre rule before 15 July. 

“If labelling the licensed trade as ‘controlled environments’ were included in the upcoming government guidelines for the industry – this would give the responsibility back to business owners to ensure staff and customer safety and allow them to track and trace customers through a number of different methods.”

The group, which also includes DRG, Buzzworks, Montpeliers, Manorview, Signature Pubs,  Lisini and Caledonia Inns, is keen to find out more about the new Scottish Recovery Tourism Taskforce and hopes it will be able to assist the Scottish Government in taking a “common sense” approach to reopening and minimising any further damage to the industry as it enters the next phase.

Mr Arnott added: “We welcome a taskforce being put in place, but it needs to take actions that will have real positive effects within the industry before any domestic visitor marketing campaign can be worthwhile.”

“We are suggesting measures that keep people safe, whilst being more attainable and easy to maintain within the restaurant and pub environment. It is crucial this is examined if we are to have a sustainable business and economy to rebuild following this pandemic.”

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