The First Minister announced today the Scottish Government’s COVID-19 – Framework for Decision Making and Scotland’s Route Map Through and Out of the Crisis. The route map takes an evidence-led and transparent approach to easing restrictions and sets out a phased approach towards the future stating that:-
“This will inevitably be a future which will not just pick up where we were before this pandemic, but will be marked by the experiences we have been through. As we move forward over the coming months we will recognise that the impact of the virus has not been the same for everyone, although everyone has been affected. We will take an approach that takes us steadily towards the objectives and outcomes set out in the National Performance Framework. The route map provides an indication of the order in which we will carefully and gradually seek to lift current restrictions, but does not attempt to specify dates for all of the different phases. Rather, as we move beyond the first phase, future phases will be based on meeting particular criteria, including those set by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
We will continue to take a cautious approach that ensures that the virus remains suppressed, while seeking to restore as much normality as possible when it is safe to do so. We will continue to hold reviews every three weeks as a minimum, to ensure we are on track and to assess whether we can accelerate or need to decelerate elements within each phase.
The Annex provides a table setting out five phases ranging from Lockdown to Phase 4 – when the virus ceases to be a significant issue, though the need for some physical distancing and hygiene measures may remain for some time. The phases contain practical examples of what people, organisations and businesses can expect to see change over time. They also show some of the things that won’t change for some time to come, such as the need for enhanced public health measures. The examples set out in this table provide broad descriptions or examples of the types of changes we will make. They will be refined and augmented over time, including through additional guidance for people and sectors.
Our steps will be careful, gradual and incremental. Businesses, public services and the third sector will need time to plan and to prepare workplaces, processes, supply chains and logistics in order to introduce any changes safely and effectively. In doing so, they must recognise the importance of the role of trades unions and of undertaking risk assessments of workplaces conducted with staff and health and safety representatives. Communities, households and individuals will also need to adapt.”
In responding to the release the SLTA Managing Director, Colin Wilkinson, said:-
“We welcome the release of the Scottish Government’s route map to recovery and see this as an important start to a return to some sort of normality whatever that may be. There were no real surprises in the recovery plan announced and, as we all suspected, the Licensed Trade will be one of the last to fully re-open.
The announcement that licensed premises with outdoor areas will be able to re-open sooner is of some comfort for those who can provide this facility and at a scale which makes it viable to do so and can overcome social distancing restriction, but for most, those with a small or no outside area, there is no early reprieve.
For those who might now consider to use an area they have not used before there are the onerous hurdles of planning and licensing requirements to overcome, not to mention costs. Let’s also not forget social distancing measures that will need to be put in place, which if maintained at the current level of 2m, could cut normal capacity by between 60% and 80%.
Last, but not least, the Scottish weather comes into the fray and if outdoor areas are to be truly outdoor, then no canopies, side screens, marquees etc. otherwise what’s the difference with being in an indoor area?
The bottom line is that each business will need to assess the practicalities, cost and viability of opening up an outdoor area. Governments must not see this initial partial opening opportunity and the future full opening of the industry, both with social distancing restrictions in place, as a marker to phase out the vital ongoing and additional support this industry will need for the months, if not years, ahead.”
For a copy of the Scottish Governments Route Map Through and Out of the Crisis click here.