The Scottish Government finally reduced the rules on self-isolation yesterday. The move follows the UK Government’s relaxation of quarantine rules before Christmas and sees the self-isolation period moving from 10 days to 7.
The First Minister also revealed that close and household contacts who have received three vaccine doses will not be required to self-isolate if they test negative using a LFT for seven days after being contacted. While anyone who is symptomatic and has tested positive for COVID using a LFT must book a PCR test. Otherwise, asymptomatic individuals testing positive with an LFT will no longer be required to book a PCR test but must self-isolate and fill out contact tracing forms.
The changes came into force at midnight.
Stephen Montgomery, spokesperson for the Scottish Hospitality Group (SHG) commented, “The announcement yesterday from the First Minister to bring Scotland in line with the rest of the UK with regards to self isolation is a positive step for our sector especially after the devastation of the past 4 weeks.
He continued, “After missing out on what should have been a busy December month to see us through the quiet months of January February and March, we would expect that the remaining restrictions placed on us will be lifted by 17th January.
“Hospitality is at a crucial point as we head towards the return of rates, VAT at 20% and utility increases and this has to be acknowledged by the Scottish Government. The requirement for exit strategy from restrictions is now a necessity, not an option.”
UKHospitality Scotland’s Executive Director, Leon Thompson, said, “The reduction from 10 to seven days for self-isolation will be welcomed by the Scottish hospitality businesses that are able to trade at reasonable levels and thus require greater numbers of their team.”
However the First Minister also revealed that the rules around physical distancing and table service for businesses serving alcohol were likely to remain in place until Monday 17 January.
Thompson commented, “The announcement leaves the future of jobs and livelihoods hanging in the balance.
“Christmas and Hogmanay were a write-off for many of our businesses. The ongoing uncertainty on how, or indeed if, sporting and business events can take place over coming weeks and months is now sapping business and consumer confidence further. If the uncertainty around restrictions continues, Easter bookings and trade will suffer, too, as holidaymakers from Scotland and the rest of the UK decide to travel elsewhere.
“Financial support for hospitality is yet to reach struggling businesses – even when it does, it will help with some immediate costs but won’t save the struggling hospitality venues that so desperately need to trade at full capacity. Above all, those businesses need clarity on when restrictions will be lifted and recognition from the Scottish Government that future restrictions on hospitality are not the way out of the current phase of the pandemic.”
The First Minister said during her statement that a revised strategic framework would be published in the coming weeks and revealed that a further £55m had been released for emergency funding – £28m for taxi and private hire providers, £19m for services such as hairdressers and beauticians, £5m for the sports sector and £3m for tourism.
Rugby fans may also get to seen Scotland host England at Murrayfield on 5th February. The current restrictions ban outside events with over 500 people but the First Minister did say she wanted to be cheering them on herself at Murrayfield. She said,, “I certainly do very firmly hope that these matches will go ahead – and will go ahead with crowds of supporters.”
Meanwhile the Prime Minister Boris Johnson told the House of Commons that pre-departure testing will no longer be required from the 7th January for travellers returning to the UK.