No cheer for pubs as Scotland’s beer gardens to stay closed

nicola sturgeon

The expectation that pub beer gardens would be open in Scotland from this week has been dashed by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon today (18th June). She moved Scotland into Phase 2 but has not given the go-ahead for the opening of pub beer gardens and outdoor hospitality areas. This decision is set to be reviewed on, or around, 2nd July.

The First Minister said in her statement,   “Another change that was envisaged on the route map for Phase 2 was the re-opening of outdoor hospitality areas such as beer gardens.  Unfortunately, I am not able to give a date for that just yet. We may be able to set a date later that is still within stage 2 and I have commissioned further advice from our scientific advisory group to inform this decision.”

She added, “There is emerging evidence that places like pubs, restaurant and gyms can be hotspots for transmission. It is really important that we better understand this evidence and what further mitigation is necessary to protect people in such places before we permit them to re-open.

“I appreciate this will be hard for the hospitality industry. I want to give assurances to businesses in that sector that we will continue to support preparations for re-opening such as encouraging local authorities to facilitate the use of open outdoor spaces that pubs and restaurants can use for additional spaces.

“I expect to have this further scientific advice in two weeks and I will set out then hopefully around 2nd July whether outdoor hospitality can re-open during phase 2 which I hope will be the case or further mitigations will be required ahead of Phase 3.”

SLTA managing director, Colin Wilkinson said, “The First Minister’s announcement today is a bitter blow for Scotland’s hospitality sector, which expected to be able to now kick-start the rebuilding of the industry.

“With the decision now delayed until July 2, operators face another anxious period for the survival of their businesses. This may also have a knock-on effect for the reopening of indoor areas, originally planned – all being well – for July 15.

Colin Barr, the owner of Glasgow’s Bier Halle reflected the feeling of many licensees with outdoor areas, “We are all feeling a bit deflated – we thought we would get open this week. It is especially disappointing because we have nice weather at the moment.  I really hope everyone follows the protocols and the transmission rate keeps going down which will allow us to get open at the next review date or sooner. ”

Emma McClarkin CEO of the Scottish Beer & Pub Association (SBPA) said, “Pubs and bars across Scotland will be somewhat disappointed by this announcement, with many expecting to be given a definitive date today for re-opening their outdoor space to allow them to start preparing to open again. That’s sadly not the case, with these businesses now having to wait a further two weeks before any clarity on when they can welcome back their customers into beer gardens and other outdoor areas.

“While the re-opening of outdoor space would provide some relief to parts of our sector, the vast majority of pubs will be looking towards the 15th July for the full re-opening. Even then, there remains issues for our sector that need to be addressed to properly unlock the economic boost our pubs can contribute to the national economy.”

The First Minister also broached the subject of the 2m versus 1m social distancing debate and said, “I will not change this guidance without religious consideration and appropriate reassurance.”

She revealed that she had asked her scientific advisors to review whether in particular settings or circumstances, with additional mitigations if required,  it might be possible in future to recommend a distance of 1 or 1.5m. She hopes to have this advice in two weeks too.

Said Emma McClarkin, “Continuing to operate at a two-metre social distance will make opening financially unviable for many and could result in over 23,600 job losses in our sector alone. A survey of our members shows that moving to the World Health Organisation backed one-metre distance that many other countries have adopted would allow the majority of premises to safely open their doors again.”



Category: Coronavirus, Editors' Picks
Tags: Beer gardens, Bier Halle, Colin Barr, Colin Wilkinson, nicola sturgeon, Phase 2, sbpa, SLTA