26 April for a pint outside but a soft drink inside… as hospitality gets indicative date for reopening

nicola sturgeon

April 26 will see Scotland’s pubs, bars, restaurants and hotels able to reopen with premises permitted to serve customers alcohol outdoors until 10pm. The need to serve a meal has been removed. Indoor hospitality can also open, but without alcohol, and only until 8pm.

Outdoor socialising is restricted to six people from three households and inside it will be a maximum of four people from 2 households.

From 17 May bars, pubs, restaurants and cafes can stay open until 10:30pm indoors with alcohol permitted and 2 hour time-limited slots and until 10pm outdoors with alcohol permitted and from June hospitality can remain open until 11pm. The route out of lockdown First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said was a “sustainable and steady path”.

She also revealed that the financial support from the Strategic Framework Business Funding would be changing. On 22 March, there would be one final four-weekly payment of the SFBF, with no new claims permitted. On 19 April SFBF recipients will automatically receive a combined two-week supplement and a one-off restart grant: up to £7,500 for eligible retail premises; and up to £19,500 for eligible hospitality and leisure The infrastructure for the SFBF will be retained and used as required in future for business support linked to any local outbreaks

From 5 April the ‘Stay at Home’ requirement is being replaced with a ‘Stay Local’ message (retaining the current, local authority-based travel restrictions for at least a three-week period);  outdoor socialising will be extended to permit up to 6 people from up to 3 households to gather and travel will be able to take place within all of mainland Scotland permitted (subject to other restrictions that remain in place).

The First Minister also said that all the aforementioned would be dependent on people sticking to the restrictions and ensuring that everything continued to move in the right direction. “Nothing is set in stone,” she said.

“We need to continue, all of us,  to be sensible – many parts of Europe going in the wrong direction again.”

She also said she hoped that all of Scotland would be in Level 0 by June. The full timetable is in the link below.  But international travel restrictions will be an ongoing issue and look unlikely to be lifted by 17th May although UK travel may be allowed.

Timetable+for+easing+coronavirus+restrictions+-+graphic (1)

Stephen Montgomery, Group Spokesperon for the Scottish Hospitality Group, said, “It’s impossible to get excited about this partial and gradual reopening, but at least we have some dates and a path towards normality.

“However there’s no hope yet for drink-led pubs, nightclubs and others and it’s essential that the government focusses more business support on these disadvantaged groups.

“The Government must also help the whole sector to rebuild after a year of devastation by launching a campaign to rebuild public confidence in well-run and responsible venues, attracting customers back to hospitality. As we’ve repeatedly said, people will find a way to drink and to socialise, and the events of last year back us up on that, with the police having to break up many house parties.”

UKHospitality Scotland Executive Director Willie Macleod said, “There is a lot to unpack from the First Minister’s announcement and, as ever, we are going to need to see the detail. We had put forward a reopening proposition to the Scottish Government which would have given us more flexibility, but at least we do now have a plan. A nationwide lifting of controls, rather than the previous local system, will be simpler and give businesses the clarity they need. After such a devastating year for hospitality, it is encouraging to see light at the end of the tunnel and dates that we can begin to work towards.

“There is, however, going to be significant disappointment from businesses that hospitality will be so tightly restricted in the first weeks of the reopening. We had proposed that alcohol be served indoors with a meal, so for that not to be allowed is a major disappointment. Restricting outdoor spaces to just six people from three households will likewise be a significant barrier to viability. The curfews, 10pm for outdoors and 8pm for indoors, will also seriously restrict businesses’ ability to break even. These businesses are, in many cases, only just clinging on.

“The reopening of accommodation businesses from 26 April will be a significant boost, provided it does indeed cover the entirety of the sector, including hotels. We need clarification and we look forward to the Scottish Government confirming that will be the case. We also need clarification that restrictions around indoor hospitality, specifically the 8pm curfew, will not extend to hotel residents.

“The increase in the limit for weddings is very welcome news; not just for those celebrating the marriage, but for event and wedding centres that have seen their businesses effectively wiped out over the year.

“Lifting of travel restrictions within Scotland and to Scotland from the rest of the UK is a huge positive and it is vital that restrictions on international travel follow as swiftly as the data allows. We look forward to report, to the UK Government, on the resumption of international travel due on 12 April.

“We also await further detail on the grants announced today. They support must find its way quickly to businesses that need it most.”

Marc Crothall, Chief Executive of the STA comments, “The First Minister’s announcement of an indicative timeline for the phased reopening of our tourism and hospitality sector will be massively welcomed by the sector today; it is the most positive news we have received in a long time.

“Today’s announcement will offer some very much needed light at the end of what has been the darkest tunnel for our industry.

“One of the biggest challenges for tourism businesses has been the restrictions around travel throughout the country which will be removed as of 26th April allowing all tourist accommodation, cafes and restaurants the opportunity to open, 50 guests to attend weddings and our tourist attractions and adventure operators to start operating again.

“Concern remains around the impact of the loss of our international market which will continue to be felt acutely by many sectors who are dependent on our global markets to trade viably, but it was encouraging to hear the First Minister to discussions set to take place with the travel industry and refer to a review of this mid-May.

“It’s absolutely critical that continued tailored financial support, by way of grants is made available to those who won’t be in a position to open and trade viably until we move into the much lower tiers; the up-front restart will be very welcomed to assist with that outlay.”

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