From 26 April it is expected that the tourism and hospitality industry will begin to reopen albeit under extremely restrictive measures. The Scottish Government is currently updating guidance for the tourism and hospitality sectors and it is hoped this will be finalised and available around mid-April.
Many of the standard aspects of the current guidance will remain the same, such as physical distancing, face coverings, at-seat service in hospitality and enhanced hygiene protocols.
Safe operating practices will continue to be the subject of a risk-based approach, with all premises required to revisit their COVID-19 risk assessments. This can be carried out now for the majority of ongoing mitigating measures and then reviewed in light of updated guidance when published.
The SLTA will provide further updates on the guidance as soon as possible.
There are, understandably, some pertinent questions you need answers to, and we’ve worked with the Scottish Government team to pull together a list of topical questions, and answers:-
Q. When can hospitality open?
A. It is expected that outdoor hospitality will open from 26 April with alcohol permitted outdoors (no meal requirement) with premises closed at 22:00 (last order times planned accordingly). Limited indoor hospitality will also be permitted from 26 April for food and non-alcoholic drinks up to 20:00 (last order times planned accordingly). From 17 May it is hoped indoor hospitality can resume alcohol service (with no meal requirement) with 22:30 closing and 2 hour booked time slots to manage dwell times. There will then be incremental changes across June and July, or when Scotland moves to lower levels of the Strategic Framework i.e. level 1 closing at 23:00 and level 0 back to licensing hours. All measures will be kept under review.
Q. Can hospitality premises serve non-alcoholic drinks indoors from 26 April without a meal?
A. Yes, teas, coffees and soft drinks can be served indoors without food within socialising rules until 20:00 (last orders planned accordingly) from 26 April.
Q. What are the socialising rules for hospitality?
A. From 26 April it is expected that up to 6 people from 3 different households can meet outdoors and 4 from 2 different households indoors. This is expected to be the same from 17 May with subsequent changes possibly taking place thereafter in June and beyond, subject to review. As previously, operators should ensure booking systems take account of these requirements so bookings for groups exceeding these limits are not made. Layout of tables should also ensure physical distancing between groups can be observed.
Q. Does outdoor and indoor service need to be at table/seated only?
A. Yes, service must be at table/seated only both indoors and outdoors in the initial stages of reopening. Operators should consider their systems for how this can be managed i.e. pre-booked slots, arrival point for checking-in and directing customers to tables, ordering systems, whether manual or electronic, and clear customer information on process and required compliance behaviours, such as need to wear face coverings when using toilet facilities, keeping physically distanced and recording personal details for Test and Protect etc. This is necessary to ensure safe practice while the virus is still a threat to public health and while the vaccination programme is still being rolled out.
Q. Can outdoor customers enter the premises to use toilet facilities?
A. Yes, but operators must review their risk assessments to ensure robust protocols are in place to manage any pinch points where people are likely to come into closer contact with one another. Face coverings when indoors and not seated will also still be required i.e. when visiting toilet facilities.
Q. Can outdoor customers place orders indoors, collect drinks and take outdoors?
A. This will not be possible in the early stages of reopening. The policy intention for early stages of reopening is for all parts of the outdoor, and indoor, service to take place at the allocated table – ordering, consumption and payment. This is to minimise the opportunity for different households to come into contact with one another. Operators should plan on this basis. If for practical reasons payment is not possible at the table i.e. no terminal signal, then it will be possible for the person paying the bill to go to a payment point to complete the transactions, wearing a face-covering when not seated.
Q. Will low level background sound be permitted in hospitality, such as background recorded music and sound from TVs?
A. Yes, the work carried out by the expert group on low level background sound management in hospitality last year will continue to apply.
Q. Will live entertainment be permitted in hospitality from 26 April?
A. No, live entertainment, such as singers etc., will return in line with live performances and events guidance. Hospitality guidance will be updated accordingly when these services resume, but this is not expected before 17 May and possibly thereafter.
Q. Will gaming machines be permitted from 26 April?
A. As with the previous approach, gaming machines in hospitality will resume in line with corresponding guidance for similar services elsewhere in the economy i.e. amusement arcades. This is not expected until 17 May.
Q. Can indoor facilities, such as toilets, be used after 20:00 from 26 April while outdoors areas are still open until 22:00?
A. Yes, the 20:00 closing time indoors relates to service. It is understood indoor areas must remain open after that in order to continue outdoor service until 22:00 and allow that to happen safely i.e. for customers to make use of toilet facilities.
Q. Will premises still be required to collect customer contact details for Test and Protect?
A. Yes, this will still be a requirement. Premises can make use of the free Protect Scotland App to help them manage this.