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New hospitality rules

Covid crackdown ‘will be devastating’ for pubs

lock on gates at bar

Many bars fear they will not reopen (pic: Terry Murden)

Business owners have warned that the £40 million funding package to support the hospitality sector through the latest restrictions is not enough and that some businesses will not survive.

Nicola Sturgeon announced a crackdown on pubs, bars and restaurants serving alcohol, with some facing effective closure for more than two weeks.

Industry sources described the new rules as “devastating” and signing the death knell for many establishments.

The First Minister is introducing a 16-day ban on pubs and restaurants serving alcohol indoors throughout Scotland for at least 16 days from Friday. Between 6am to 6pm they can serve only serve food and non-alcoholic drinks indoors.

Nicola Sturgeon

Nicola Sturgeon outlining the changes

Hotel restaurants will be able to operate beyond 6pm, but only for residents and without alcohol.

But the clampdown is tougher for the central belt. In five hotspot areas all licensed premises – with the exception of hotels for residents – will be required to close indoors and outdoors, though takeaways will be permitted until 26 October.

The five areas are:

  • Greater Glasgow & Clyde
  • Lanarkshire
  • Ayrshire & Arran
  • Lothian
  • Forth Valley

Cafes which don’t have an alcohol licence will be able to stay open until 6pm to support social isolation.

In addition, snooker and pool halls, indoor bowling alleys, casinos and bingo halls will close in these areas for two weeks from 10 October.

Contact sports for people aged 18 and over will be suspended for the next two weeks – with an exception for professional sports.


Indoor group exercise activities will not be allowed – although the current rules will remain in place for under 18s.  Gyms can remain open for individual exercise.

Outdoor live events will not be permitted in these five regions for the next two weeks.

People will be advised against using public transport. 

Ms Sturgeon said: “We are not imposing mandatory travel restrictions at this stage, and specifically, we are not insisting that people cancel any half term breaks they have planned.

“However, in general, we are advising people living in Greater Glasgow & Clyde, Lanarkshire, Ayrshire & Arran, Lothian and Forth Valley not to travel outside the health board area they live in, if you don’t need to – and likewise people in other parts of Scotland should not travel to these areas if they don’t need to.”

The moves are introduced after Scotland reported more than 1,000 new infections in one day.

Reaction from business groups ranged from disappointment to anger.

Marc Crothall, chief executive of the Scottish Tourism Alliance, described the new measures as “nothing short of devastating”.

He added that many businesses will not be able to trade at a level over the next few weeks which would sustain them through the next couple of months and may not be economically viable beyond this year. “

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CAMRA’s Director for Scotland Joe Crawford said it was “absolutely devastating news for pubs and breweries” and said publicans feel they have become the scapegoat for the pandemic. 

He said: “We risk seeing thousands of pubs, clubs and breweries closing for good before Christmas.” 

Stephen Montgomery, spokesman for the Scottish Hospitality Group, said: “The First Minister has effectively signed a death sentence for many businesses across the Scottish hospitality industry, while the real problem is socialising at home.”

Tracy Black, CBI Scotland Director, said: While the announcement of £40 million of support is welcome, it’s deeply disappointing that firms have been instructed to close before specific detail has been provided on what funding will be made available and how it can be accessed.”

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