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Pub owners say Covid rules ‘make no sense’

Cockburn Street Edinburgh pubs

Hospitality remains closed until the end of the month, despite pleas for an earlier opening

Hospitality groups were again left frustrated by a lack of clarity and any concessions following the latest update on easing Covid-19 restrictions.

Pubs and restaurants, together with non-essential retail, will reopen from 26 April as scheduled, despite calls for the date to be brought forward in line with England.

Amid warnings that up to two-thirds of pubs may not survive the crisis, lobby groups called for a more consistent application of the rules that would allow more outlets to trade.

Stephen Montgomery, spokesperson for the Scottish Hospitality Group, said the latest update “doesn’t change anything for the vast majority of hospitality providers.

“In fact, we’re more confused than ever at a decision which makes no sense. We’ve argued for a sensible relaxing of the alcohol rules for many months now, so it’s ridiculous that this is only being applied to all-day weddings but not other indoor socialising. You can toast the bride and groom in the function suite but you can’t have a glass of wine on a first date in the restaurant next door.

“We again urge minsters to consider and introduce the very sensible measures we’ve put forward that will allow pubs, hotels and restaurants to begin the long road to recovery while providing safer spaces for socialising.

“The Scottish Government has confirmed there’s no specific evidence for the restrictions on hospitality so let’s have a bit of fairness for the thousands of people working in the sector.”

The Scottish Licensed Trade Association says only 22.9% of licensed premises in Scotland have designated outdoors areas.

SLTA managing director Colin Wilkinson said: “By our reckoning it will not be viable for about two-thirds of the licensed trade to reopen on April 26.”

Travel restrictions around Scotland will be lifted from Friday (16th) allowing for larger groups of people to meet outdoors.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the current limit allowing four people to meet will be raised to six from six households, but only outdoors and they cannot stay overnight.

Travel will also be allowed between Scotland and other parts of the UK from 26 April, which will be welcomed by the tourism industry.

Areas of Scotland in level 4 restrictions will move to level 3 from 26 April, she said, warning that the improved data “does not mean we should throw caution to the wind”.

Ms Sturgeon said people should be able to meet indoors again from the middle of May.

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