Nightclubs in Scotland to close for three weeks from December 27

Deputy first minister John Swinney indicated they would still have the option to operate with distancing and table service.

Nightclubs in Scotland to close for three weeks from December 27 iStock
The deputy first minister was giving evidence at Holyrood's Covid-19 Recovery Committee.

The Scottish Government has proposed that nightclubs should close in order to help halt the spread of the Omicron variant.

Deputy first minister John Swinney outlined the Government’s position should not operate for a three-week period from December 27.

They will still have the option to remain open and to operate with physical distancing and table service.

However, Swinney indicated that closure and regulation, as well as financial support, could help to reduce losses.

The regulations will come into effect at 5am on December 27, and will be reviewed on January 11.

It is expected that the change will impact around 150 clubs.

The deputy first minister was giving evidence at Holyrood’s Covid-19 Recovery Committee on Thursday.

“Having engaged with the sector, we now propose to require that nightclubs should not operate as such for this three week period,” he told MSPs.

“While it would be open to them to operate with distancing and table service, and that option will remain, we consider that closure and regulation, combined with financial support, may reduce losses and help these businesses weather what we hope will be a short period until they are able to operate normally again.

“This change will be effected by a separate Scottish statutory instrument, coming into force at the same time, which my officials have already shared with the committee this morning.”

Swinney told MSPs that an update on support allocation funding will be provided “as soon as possible”.

He said: “The Scottish Government is acutely aware of the financial implications for many businesses.

“The First Minister detailed additional support totalling £375m that will be made available, including £100m announced last week to support businesses directly impacted by Omicron.

“An update will be provided on the breakdown and allocation of funding as soon as possible.”

Scottish Conservative Covid Recovery spokesman Murdo Fraser called for the details of the support package for nightclub businesses to be set out.

“This news is a further setback to a sector already on its knees as a result of previously-announced restrictions to tackle the spread of Omicron,” said Fraser.

“I understand that this is a fast-moving situation but, when announcing this enforced shutdown, John Swinney should have spelt out the exact details of the support package that will be given to nightclub businesses, rather than merely promising an update on allocation ‘as soon as possible’.

“That’s not good enough – businesses on the brink need to know now exactly what financial support they will receive, and when.

“The SNP Government has been given an extra £440m in assistance from the UK Government. They need to get that money out the door and into the hands of beleaguered Scottish businesses immediately.”