The hospitality sector in Scotland will be permitted to start reopening from April 26, if Covid-19 cases continue to decline, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has announced.
However, restrictions on the sale of alcohol, curfews and households mixing will remain in place.
Sturgeon yesterday revealed Scotland’s roadmap out of lockdown and speaking to Holyrood, she said this would begin from April 5 when hairdressers and garden centres will be allowed to reopen and the ‘stay at home’ order will be lifted.
The first glimmer of hope for hospitality will be from April 26 when it is expected that all areas under level four restrictions will move down to level three and the sector will start to reopen.
Pubs, cafes and restaurant can open outdoors until 10pm and will be permitted to sell alcohol. Up to six people from three households can meet outside from this date.
Indoor hospitality will also be allowed to reopen, but until 8pm and alcohol will not be allowed. People must meet in groups of up to four people from two households.
Up to 50 people will be able to attend weddings and funerals and gyms will reopen for individual exercise.
Sturgeon said ‘tourist accommodation’ will also be able to reopen, but failed to clarify if this includes hotels specifically.
UKHospitality’s Scotland’s executive director Willie Macleod said the sector ‘needs clarification’ and will be waiting for the Scottish government to confirm that hotels are included in this.
He added that clarification was needed around indoor hospitality and specifically the 8pm curfew and whether it will be extended to hotel residents.
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. 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.”
A broader easing of restrictions on indoor hospitality is planned for May 17, in line with England, with alcohol sales allowed but social distancing rules in place. The curfew will be extended to 10.30pm and guests will be limited to a two-hour sitting.
Sturgeon also said that she hoped all of Scotland would be able to move to Level 1 of restrictions by early June. This would mean hospitality would be be subject to a 11pm curfew and allowed to host groups of six people from up to three households.
By the end of June, it is hoped that the country would move to Level 0, which would see ‘normality return’ and the lifting of curfew measures.
The first minister said the government was on track to hit the target of giving a first dose of vaccine to all priority groups – including ‘a significant majority of Scotland’s adult population’ – by mid-April.
She said this would ‘give us confidence to ease restrictions much more significantly from 26 April’.