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Easing Of Covid Rules Welcome But Uncertainty Remains For Licensed Trade Sector

Easing of Covid rules welcome but uncertainty remains for licensed trade sector

Confirming the change to Level 0, the First Minister urged people to adhere to protective measures and sensible precautions to suppress coronavirus (COVID-19) to help create conditions that allow Scotland to move beyond Level 0 on 9 August.

From 00:01 on Monday 19 July, physical distancing in Level 0 will reduce to 1 metre in all indoor public settings and outdoors. Additionally, informal social gatherings of up to 15 people from 15 households will be permitted outdoors without physical distancing. Gatherings of up to 10 people from four households will be permitted in all indoor public settings with 1 metre physical distancing.

Other easings to Level 0 taking effect at that time include:

  • under-12s will no longer count towards the number of households that can gather indoors in public spaces and homes
  • hospitality settings can open till midnight, if their current licence permits that, and customers will no longer be required to pre-book a two-hour slot to go to a pub or restaurant but will still be required to provide contact details to assist Test & Protect
  • up to 200 people will be able to gather at weddings and funerals

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said:

While Scotland will move to Level 0 from next Monday, we will do so with certain modifications to our original indicative plans. This is intended to ensure that our pace of easing restrictions is sensible in light of the challenge we continue to face from the Delta variant. There is no doubt that Delta has become, unfortunately, something of a game-changer – even for countries on course to achieving full vaccine protection – so COVID does remain a threat that we must treat seriously.

The Scottish Government understands the temptation to lift more restrictions more quickly. In our view, and in line with clinical advice and modelling, a gradual approach stands the best chance of minimising further health harm and loss of life – and also because a gradual approach stands the best chance of being a sustainable approach, it will be better in the long term for the economy as well.

We are easing restrictions next week – but we are not abandoning them. We will also keep in place for now certain other measures – such as the requirement to wear face coverings, co-operate with test and protect teams, and comply with advice on good hygiene and ventilation.

If we do all of this, frustrating though it all continues increasingly to be, we will help protect ourselves and our loved ones. As we continue to complete the vaccination programme, which does offer us still the route back to greater normality, we will make it easier for more restrictions to be gradually and sensibly lifted in the weeks ahead.”

A full copy of the First Minister’s statement can be found here.

In responding to the First Minister’s statement the Scottish Licensed Trade Association said:-

Scottish licensed trade operators, while welcoming today’s announcement by the First Minister that Scotland will move to a modified version of Level 0 rules from Monday, remain disappointed that they must still operate under restrictions and at limited capacity.

Colin Wilkinson, managing director of the Scottish Licensed Trade Association, said it was a “relief to have some clarity” from the Scottish Government but added:

There’s still quite a lot of uncertainty about what will happen from August 9th.

We urge the Scottish Government to give businesses – and the public – messaging that is both clear and consistent to avoid confusion. Clarity is key as our sector tries to save what is left of the summer.

That hospitality can open until midnight if their current licence permits that from July 19th is, of course, good news and it will help some businesses tart to claw back lost trade. However, as the one-metre physical distancing rule remains in place, that will be very difficult for some premises, particularly smaller ones.

Today’s announcement also leaves those still unable to open because of their size or the entertainment they provide, such as late opening premises and nightclubs, no further forward.”

Mr Wilkinson also reiterated the SLTA’s call for further financial aid to ensure the survival of the licensed hospitality industry as it plays its part in rebuilding the economy. “There needs to be an extension to the current support schemes available such as furlough, VAT reduction, deferral of loan repayments and so on.”

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