The Scottish Licensed Trade Association has welcomed the announcement by the First Minister that outdoor hospitality such as beer gardens can reopen from July 6 and pubs and restaurants indoors from July 15. These are indicative dates subject to social distancing rules and public health advice.
Nicola Sturgeon also confirmed that much of Scotland’s self-catering sector can reopen from July 3 and hotels from July 15 – again, subject to social distancing rules and public health advice.
Paul Waterson, SLTA media spokesperson, said that it signalled “much-needed good news” for pubs following last week’s disappointment when the First Minister announced that the hospitality industry would have to wait until July 2 for a provisional date.
He expressed disappointment, however, that there was still no news on a reduction of the two-metre social distancing parameter that has been given the green light by the UK Government for operators in England.
Waterson said: “Today’s announcement is clearly much-needed good news for pubs but many operators desperately need the two-metre social distancing parameter reduced if they are to be viable.
“That pubs and restaurants can open indoors from July 15, albeit on a limited basis initially and subject to a number of conditions, is also to be welcomed and we look forward to viewing the detailed guidance when it becomes available.
“The First Minister also said today that businesses in the hospitality sector will be required to take names and contact details of customers, and store them for four weeks – we accept that this is both responsible and necessary under the circumstances,” he added.
However, Waterson warned that guidance similar to that issued by the UK Government would prove extremely problematic for operators. “It states that pubs should not provide any entertainment such as live TV broadcasts and loud music that could encourage customers to sing, chant or dance.
“We appreciate that some measures will be absolutely necessary and of course we will work round those and adhere to them but the guidance must be balanced and sensible. Who wants to spend time in a pub when there is no atmosphere?”
Waterson continued: “We said last week that Scotland’s hospitality sector will take a long time to rebuild and recover, and while today’s announcement gives us definitive dates to work towards, make no mistake – there is still a very long way to go with many other issues to be addressed.”