Pubs and restaurants close as new rules come into force

The Scottish Government's new rules came into force at 6pm on Friday and are scheduled to end on October 25.

Pubs and restaurants close as new rules come into force Getty Images
Coronavirus: New regulations came into force at 6pm on Friday.

Pubs, bars and restaurants across central Scotland have now all but closed for 16 days to stem the spread of coronavirus.

The venues will still be able to offer takeaway service, but otherwise have been forced to shut up shop following new restrictions imposed by the Scottish Government on the hospitality industry.

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

Across the rest of Scotland, pubs, bars, restaurants and cafes are now only allowed to operate indoors between the hours of 6am and 6pm, and are prohibited from serving alcohol. However, drinks can be served until 10pm in outdoor areas.

The new rules came into force at 6pm on Friday and are scheduled to last until October 25 following a rise in coronavirus cases.

Earlier in the day, the First Minister attempted to address the confusion over the new restrictions in regards to the definition of a cafe.

The Scottish Government has now issued guidance, stating that a cafe is an “establishment whose primary business activity, in the ordinary course of its business, is the sale of non-alcoholic drinks, snacks, or light meals, which may be consumed on the premises”.

Sturgeon stated: “The reason for this cafe exemption is quite simple. It’s to give people, particularly those who might be living alone and also working from home, somewhere that they can still meet a friend for a coffee and a chat.

“And we judged that is important to help reduce the loneliness and isolation that comes with some of these restrictions that are in place right now.”

Sturgeon said the Scottish Government was “deliberately trying” to reduce the volume of places that people come together to stem the spread of coronavirus.

She added: “So that’s why we’re not allowing premises like restaurants to decide to just stop selling alcohol, become cafes and stay open.

“That would undermine the purpose of these restrictions.”

Police Scotland said additional officers will be deployed to support the new restrictions.

Meanwhile, business owners have warned that the new rules could cost thousands of jobs. However, details of a £40m package of support for hospitality businesses are still to be set out.

Karina Bowlby, who owns The Fat Pheasant in Newton, near Edinburgh, said the new restrictions have come as a blow to the pub’s team, who felt like they had only just got back on track after being allowed to reopen from the first Covid-19 lockdown in July.

She said: “Last weekend we were fully booked and the team were on a high thinking, ‘this is great, we’ve got everyone’s trust and confidence back again, things are going to be really good from now on’.

“It was extremely hard seeing their faces when that announcement came because they looked absolutely broken.

“They looked like they’d had the wind completely taken out of them.”

Like many in the industry, Ms Bowlby feels hospitality has been unfairly singled out for tighter restrictions.

She said: “We’ve spent a lot of money making the premises Covid-secure.

“We have hand sanitisers everywhere, we’re very, very strict with people coming in, and I feel we’ve done all we can.

“I just don’t feel there’s justification for shutting down the pubs.

“The stats don’t warrant it, as regards to the amount of infections from a premises, and I’m just really, really frustrated.

“I feel we’ve been made a bit of a scapegoat really.”

Ms Bowlby said she accepted some measures were needed in the central belt of Scotland, where transmission rates have been high, but felt it was “highly unfair” on businesses in other areas of the country where rates are relatively low.