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Restaurants and bars in Scotland with outdoor space will reopen earlier

21 May 2020 by
Restaurants and bars in Scotland with outdoor space will reopen earlier

Scotland's first minister Nicola Sturgeon has said that while restaurants, hotels and pubs will not reopen this month, hospitality businesses' outdoor spaces will be able to reopen earlier than indoor spaces.

Speaking today in Holyrood giving details of the country's routemap of easing lockdown restrictions, Sturgeon said the first phase will begin from 28 May.

From the end of next week, people in Scotland will be allowed to sit and sunbathe outdoors, meet other households in ‘small numbers' observing social distancing, and outdoor activities such as golf and tennis will be permitted.

As part of the first phase, the gradual reopening of drive-through food outlets is also planned, according to the routemap published by the Scottish government this afternoon.

The second phase will see "small retail units" allowed to reopen with physical distancing in place, as well as outdoor markets, and pubs and restaurants will be able to open outdoor spaces.

Schools are anticipated to open on 11 August as part of the third phase. This will also be the phase when pubs and restaurants will be able to open indoor spaces with physical distancing; restrictions on hotels and B&Bs will be relaxed; and restrictions on marriages and other service attendance will be extended to beyond close family.

While Sturgeon said the government wants to "move through these stages as quickly as the evidence allows", she added that the proposals "cannot be set in stone" and will be reviewed every three weeks.

UKHospitality has opposed the plan, which it has described as "illogical", with the potential to do "serious harm". Executive director for Scotland, Willie Macleod said: "We are seriously concerned that the Scottish Government's plan for reopening will do more harm than good. It appears not to be based in any logic and has the potential to create a two-tier sector with many already-hammered businesses being left behind.

"Reopening hospitality businesses should be phased according to agreed protocols to ensure healthy, hygienic and safe spaces for staff members and tourists. The Scottish Government's plans rests on whether businesses have an outdoor space or not; not whether they are able to operate safely with social distancing guidelines in place. Subjecting businesses that do not have outdoor spaces but could operate perfectly safely to further forced closure is illogical and will do serious harm.

"Hospitality and tourism businesses in Scotland have already been hammered by this crisis and most will have had no revenue for over three months. Many businesses have also struggled to access financial support and the larger businesses have been denied grant support altogether. The reality is that some businesses will not survive this crisis. The Scottish government's plan for reopening must ensure that every single business is given the best possible chance to survive. The route map announced does not do this."

More detail, including sector-specific advice, is expected to be published in the days ahead.

Although it has been suggested the UK could also see pub gardens open earlier than other hospitality businesses, this is yet to be confirmed.

Photo: Shutterstock

Government confirms 'ambition' to open some hospitality venues, including pubs and hotels, from 4 July >>

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