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Scottish Licensed Trade Hails FM’s Announcement As ‘the News We’ve Been Waiting For’

Scottish licensed trade hails FM’s announcement as ‘the news we’ve been waiting for’

The First Minister confirmed today that Scotland would be moving beyond level 0 on the 9th of August. However, some protective measures will stay in place.

The legal requirement for physical distancing and limits on gatherings will be removed on 9th August when all venues across Scotland will be able to fully re-open.

Some protective measures will stay in place such as the use of face coverings indoors and the collection of contact details as part of Test and Protect. Capacity limits of 2000 people indoors and 5000 people outdoors will also remain in place although some exceptions may be possible on a case by case basis. These will be reviewed on a three weekly basis to ensure they remain proportionate.

Adults identified as close contacts of someone who has tested positive for Covid-19 will also no longer be automatically required to self-isolate for 10 days from 9th August. Anyone who is double-vaccinated with at least two weeks passed since their second dose and who has no symptoms will be able to end self-isolation if they return a negative PCR test.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said:

The move beyond level 0 will entail the lifting of most of the remaining legally imposed restrictions – most notably, on physical distancing and limits to the size of social gatherings. It also means that from 9th August, no venues will be legally required to close.

This change is significant and it is hard-earned. The sacrifices everyone has made over the past year and a half can never be overstated. However, while this move will restore a substantial degree of normality, it is important to be clear that it does not signal the end of the pandemic or a return to life exactly as we knew it before Covid struck.

Declaring freedom from, or victory over, this virus is in my view premature. The harm the virus can do, including through the impact of long Covid, should not be underestimated. And its ability to mutate may yet pose us real challenges.”

Further details about the measures announced today will be published shortly. In responding to the announcement the SLTA issued the following statement:-

Today’s announcement by the First Minister that Scotland will go beyond Level 0 coronavirus restrictions from Monday “is the news we’ve been waiting for”, says the Scottish Licensed Trade Association (SLTA).

Colin Wilkinson, SLTA managing director, said: “This is the best news the licensed hospitality industry has had for over a year – it’s the news we’ve been waiting for and I’m sure there will be a few champagne corks popping to celebrate, at long last, a return to near normal trading.

We are particularly relieved that physical distancing restrictions can be dropped as the one-metre rule made trading very difficult for some premises, particularly smaller ones – premises can now get back to operating at maximum capacity.

However, while we understand why the Scottish Government wants to keep some mitigation measures in place, including the mandatory wearing of face coverings in some public spaces and a need for hospitality and indoor venues to continue to collect customer’s contact details, we hope that this is a short-term requirement.

We are also relieved that those identified as close contacts of someone who has tested positive for Covid-19 will no longer be automatically required to self-isolate for 10 days – many businesses have been forced to close temporarily while staff self-isolate and this has been a big, big problem for our industry.

News that the night-time industry can reopen will “come as a relief” for operators who have been unable to trade since March 2020. “All sectors of the licensed hospitality industry have suffered but nightclubs and late-night operators have been in particularly dire straits so today’s news really does come as a relief,” said Mr Wilkinson.

He added that he would be seeking clarification on a of number issues that SLTA members have already been asking. “Since today’s announcement the phone has been ringing with operators asking if customers can stand and drink at the bar, for example, and I hope to get clarification on this and more of the final detail by tomorrow at the latest when SLTA and other industry groups will meet with the Scottish Government.

Mr Wilkinson also reiterated the SLTA’s previous calls for further financial aid to ensure the survival of the licensed hospitality industry as it plays its part in rebuilding the economy with an extension to the current support schemes available.”

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