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Scottish Licensed Trade Association Welcomes Reduced Restrictions

Scottish Licensed Trade Association welcomes reduced restrictions

Scottish Licensed Trade Association welcomes easing of measures, but expresses concern over Covid Certification uncertainty.

Yesterday afternoon the First Minister announced that the remaining statutory measures introduced in response to Omicron – limits on attendance at indoor public events; the requirement for 1 metre physical distancing between different groups in indoor public places; the requirement for table service in hospitality premises serving alcohol on the premises; and the closure of nightclubs would be removed from Monday, 24th January.

Also from Monday, the guidance asking people to stick to a 3 household limit on indoor gatherings will be removed.

Hospitality premises should continue to collect contact details for customers and the Covid Certification Scheme will continue to apply for now to large indoor and outdoor events, and to late night venues.

The First Minister confirmed that the Government would not, at this stage, extend the Covid Certification Scheme to other premises, but would reconsider this should circumstances change in any significant way.

The First Minister did state that there would be one reasonably minor change to the certification regulations – at the moment, nightclubs and other late-night venues must apply the scheme if they have, in use, a designated area for dancing.

The Government intend to amend the definition here to provide greater clarity and prevent premises from avoiding certification simply by having tables on a dancefloor – and therefore claiming it is not a dancefloor – but nevertheless permitting dancing around the tables. This change will also take effect from Monday.

In responding to the First Minister’s statement the Scottish Licensed Trade Association welcomed the announcement that the coronavirus restrictions introduced in response to the Omicron wave will end on Monday.

However, the SLTA expressed concern over the continuing rules surrounding nightclubs as well as the threat of extending the Covid certification scheme to the wider hospitality industry that is still hanging over businesses.

Colin Wilkinson, SLTA managing director, said:-

We are delighted that businesses can now look forward to the removal of one-metre physical distancing measures along with table service no longer being required although we would have preferred the lifting of these measures with immediate effect.

The First Minister said that the Scottish Government had reached a difficult decision in deciding not to extend Covid passport certification beyond nightclubs to other parts of the hospitality sector – to all pubs, bars and restaurants – but we remain concerned that this option is still on the table.”

Expressing concern about the existing restrictions affecting nightclubs and the “reasonably minor change” announced yesterday to the Covid certification regulations that have seen some premises avoid the certification scheme by placing tables on their dancefloor, Mr Wilkinson said:-

This could have a huge impact on ‘hybrid’ premises and a large number of premises  that wouldn’t normally have any need to employ door staff could now have to do so, leading to increased staffing and running costs at a time when they can ill afford it. We eagerly await clarification on what the ‘reasonably minor change’ will be.”

The SLTA is also concerned that the First Minister appeared to be “dragging her heels” on the Government’s new strategic framework on dealing with Covid that was first mentioned two weeks ago.

Where are the details? Why are we still waiting? We need urgent clarity on this now, not next month. It is encouraging that the First Minister alluded to the fact the Government will be engaging with businesses about a return to a more hybrid approach from the start of February but with every day that passes, the more difficult it becomes for businesses to start planning for the future.”

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