North-east hospitality sector hit with more “hammer blow” Covid-19 restrictions

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INDOOR bars and restaurants in the North-east will no longer be able to serve alcohol and must close by 6pm, in new government measures announced today.

First minister, Nicola Sturgeon, said changes were needed to combat the spread of Covid-19.

Bars, cafes and restaurants not in the North-east will be allowed to open between 6am and 6pm, but not sell alcohol.

The new restrictions will come into effect at 6pm on Friday and last until October 25.

She said: “Many other countries are right now introducing restrictions on hospitality, no doubt for the same reasons.

“Ireland, France, Germany and Belgium have announced a variety of different measures over the past few days.

“One of the things we are trying to do is balance the public health harm caused by Covid with wider economic and social harms.

“I know these measures, although temporary, will have a significant effect on businesses and I am sorry for that.”

The harshest changes will be implemented in the central belt, with all licensed premises in the Greater Glasgow and Clyde, Lanarkshire, Ayrshire and Arran, Lothian and Forth Valley health board areas closed for both indoor and outdoor operations.

Across Scotland, shops will be asked to re-introduce two metre social distancing and other measures like one-way systems from this weekend.

An additional £40million has been put aside for hospitality businesses affected by the new restrictions.

However, the new measures have been met with disappointment from those within the sector.

James Wither, Scotland Food & Drink chief executive branded it a hammer blow.

He said: “We all want to suppress the virus, but there is no getting away from the fact that this is a hammer blow to Scotland’s hospitality sector and the businesses that rely on it. The ripple effects for the economy and communities shouldn’t be under-estimated.

“This may seem a short term, two-week hit, but it is targeted at businesses that are barely clinging on to survival.

“Many food and drink producers rely on sales to pubs and the wider hospitality sector. Scotland’s independent brewers sell three quarters of their products to hospitality venues so the closure orders are a huge step backwards for them.”

Marc Crothall, Scottish Tourism Alliance chief executive, said: “We are acutely aware of the delicate balance between protecting public health and the economy; the reality is however that many businesses will not be able to trade at a level over the next few weeks which would sustain them through the next couple of months and may not be economically viable beyond this year.

“Whilst many people will be relieved that they can get away on a holiday over the half-term break, businesses have already reported they are taking cancellation calls and expect to see more over the coming days, impacting all areas of the sector, including the supply chain.”

 

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