Scottish Government throw hospitality under the bus with new social distancing rules


The hospitality industry in Scotland has been left reeling from the publication on Friday night of the new Draft Guidance for Hospitality which has increased the requirement for social distancing in hospitality premises rather than leave it as it was. A move described as “nonsensical” and a “destructive shambles” with the trade asking now for a “commonsense approach.”

The Draft Guidance published on Friday only 10 days ahead of reopening on 26th April, follows First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s earlier decision to bring forward some regulations which allowed travel and hospitality venues in Level 3 to accommodate six people, from six households outside, and six from two households inside. However, any good that move may bring has been negated by the most recent update which requires a table length of 3.5m for 6 people and the table has to be just over a meter wide.

The news was met with disbelief and real concern by the industry.

Donald Macleod MBE, who owns Glasgow institutions The Garage and The Cathouse comments,  The latest “draft” guidance from the Scottish Government on social distancing for the hospitality sector is as clear as mud and a cut and paste destructive shambles. It is obvious that whoever drafted them has not one scintilla of business sense or an ounce of care for the sector, whose operators are desperate and struggling to make ends meet in these exacting times.

“Now that we have the vaccine, the peddling of fear and caution from the government and their army of health advisors must stop and replaced with a concerted and confident drive back to normality, otherwise Scotland’s hospitality and live music industries will become a cultural wasteland.”

A view shared by Michael Bergson, of Buck’s Bar who said, “This is a nonsensical shambles. The person who made this rule has no understanding of business or hospitality and the most disgraceful part of all is that there is no science to it. It is a rule for the sake of rules.

“If you are going to destroy businesses you have to have solid data, proof and evidence that validates your rules and we are not getting that. It is a disgrace. We have been hung out to dry.”

“ A publican is a noble profession and we are getting hung out to dry by politicians who have not lost a thing during a pandemic.”

Stephen Montgomery, the spokesperson for the Scottish Hospitality Group, demonstrated the inadequacy of the new rules in a video (see the link below). He comments, “This new guidance suggests it is now 2m from the back of the body to the back of the body.  It makes unviable, even more unviable, especially indoors.”

Graeme Arnott of Caledonian Heritable, one of Scotland’s biggest pub companies comments, “It seems to be one step forward two steps back. Clarity is required and it is not in the messaging. This is some sort of theoretical measurement that does not take into account the current rules on households socialising and bubbles. The draft guidance requires that four people from the same household would require 10m2 to dine. Common sense needs to be applied. It was well documented last year that compliance was high in hospitality and that we did not have a lot of cases and we were then, operating with less stringent mitigations than required now.”

Stephen Montgomery on socialdistancing


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