Pub and restaurant restrictions extended by a week

Pubs and restaurants in central Scotland will not be able to open before November 2.

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Coronavirus restrictions on pubs and restaurants have been extended by a week.

A ban on indoor home visits and travel guidance urging people to stay in their health board area will also remain in place until at least November 2, when a new tiered system of lockdown rules begins.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said that while there was “cautious optimism” the restrictions were working, ministers were told by advisers it would not be safe to lift the measures from Monday, October 26.

Coronavirus has claimed the lives of 28 people in Scotland over the past 24 hours, with more than 1700 cases recorded.

Pubs and restaurants in central Scotland were all but closed – except for takeaway services – from October 9 to stem the spread of Covid-19.

Cafes across the five central health board regions – Greater Glasgow and Clyde, Lanarkshire, Ayrshire and Arran, Lothian, and Forth Valley – have been exempt from the shutdown as long as they do not serve alcohol.

Across the rest of Scotland, pubs, bars, restaurants and cafes have only been able to operate indoors between the hours of 6am and 6pm. They have been prohibited from serving alcohol inside, but can still serve drinks outdoors until 10pm.

The Scottish Government has also asked residents in central Scotland to “think carefully” before travelling outwith their health board area.

Announcing the extension at her daily briefing, Sturgeon said: “It allows us to transition more smoothly to the new levels system that we hope will be introduced on November 2.”

Financial support will be extended to help businesses affected by the extension of restrictions.

The First Minister added that she understood the move was “harsh” financially and emotionally.

She said: “I know all of this is really unwelcome and I know that these restrictions are harsh.

“They are harsh financially for many individuals and businesses, and they are harsh emotionally for all of us.

“I want to stress again that none of these decisions are being taken lightly – this is all about trying to save lives and minimise the health damage that we know this virus is capable of doing.”

The hospitality industry fears the extension will have “devastating consequences”.

Stephen Montgomery, spokesman for the Scottish Hospitality Group, said: “With current restrictions remaining in place until November 2, and no indication of what the new tier system will entail, the financial support package must be increased or countless venues will be forced to close for good, and tens of thousands of people will lose their jobs.”

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) said “there’s no hiding the fact that today’s extension won’t go down well with many firms”.

Andrew McRae, FSB’s Scotland policy chair, added: “We asked ministers to clarify whether the current hospitality restrictions would be lifted next week.

“Hopefully today’s announcement has come early enough to prevent independent pub and restaurants ordering unnecessary stock, disappointing customers or confusing staff.”