Pub and restaurant restrictions set to be relaxed

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon outlined changes as MSPs debate a framework for tackling Covid-19.

Pubs and restaurants in much of central Scotland could be allowed to reopen from Monday under the new Covid alert system – but can’t serve alcohol.

They will also have to close at 6pm under tier three of the new plan to control coronavirus being debated in the Scottish Parliament.

A series of changes to hospitality rules were unveiled before the debate by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

Pubs and restaurants in central Scotland have been closed since October 9 in a bid to control the spread of Covid-19.

It’s expected most of the central belt will be in level three, although North and South Lanarkshire are being tipped for level four, meaning venues couldn’t reopen there.

Closing times for venues in level two will be extended to 10.30pm from 10pm. Premises allocated that level will only be permitted to sell alcohol indoors with a main meal up to 8pm.

At present, hospitality premises outside the central belt cannot serve alcohol indoors and must close at 6pm.

The five-tier system will see all parts of Scotland given a level of restrictions to combat the spread of the virus – ranging from the least prohibitive at zero to the highest at four.

Sturgeon said North and South Lanarkshire council areas are being considered for the highest level of restrictions under the proposed tier system.

Other areas in the central belt covered by tougher measures would likely move into level three, while the rest of the country would be at level two.

The FM said it was hoped local authority areas including the Highlands, Shetland, Orkney, the Western Isles and Moray would go into level one, while Dundee could also go into level three.

Cabinet secretary Fergus Ewing said: “I understand that any restrictions are hard for business and I know that many will want us to go further, however, this is a proportionate relaxation of the current rules that will enable premises to serve evening meals and alcohol in level two, in addition to removing the distinction between cafés and other licensed premises at level three.

“We need to be very cautious at level three, to ensure that the restrictions in place contribute to reducing the spread of the virus, so that they can be lifted as soon as possible.

“I want to thank the sector for its constructive engagement over the weekend and commit to continuing these discussions as we go forward.”

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