Covid: Central Scotland pubs and restaurants to shut as new restrictions confirmed by Nicola Sturgeon

  • Video report by ITV News Scotland Correspondent Peter Smith

Pubs in central Scotland will be closed as part of stricter Covid-19 lockdown restrictions, announced by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

The hospitality industry will be hardest hit by the latest measures aimed at stopping the spread of coronavirus, with pubs and licensed cafes in five Scottish health board areas – Greater Glasgow & Clyde, Lanarkshire, Ayrshire & Arran, Lothian and Forth Valley – being told they must shut to all but takeaway customers for more than two weeks from 6pm on Friday.

In areas with lower infection rates, indoor hospitality venues will only be allowed to operate between 6am and 6pm daily, selling food and non-alcoholic drinks only.

"These new restrictions will last for 16 days. They are intended to be short, sharp action to arrest a worrying increase in infection," Ms Sturgeon said.

“However, although they are temporary, they are needed.

“Without them, there is a risk the virus will be out of control by the end of this month.

“But with them, we hope to slow its spread. That will help to keep schools and businesses open over the winter. And it will save lives.”

What are the new measures to be introduced?

  • Pubs and restaurants will not be allowed to serve alcohol indoors for 16 days from 6pm on Friday. Establishments will, however, be allowed to serve food and non-alcoholic drinks inside from 6am to 6pm.

  • All licensed premises in Greater Glasgow and Clyde, Lanarkshire, Ayrshire and Arran, Lothian and Forth Valley health board areas (the central belt) will be closed for both indoor and outdoor operations.

  • Restaurants within hotels will be able to serve people after these hours, but without alcohol.

  • Pubs and restaurants will still be able to serve people outside, subject to the rules which are currently in place.

  • People in the five areas with tighter restrictions have been told to avoid public transport wherever possible.

  • In the central belt snooker and pool halls, bowling alleys, casinos and bingo halls will have to shut for a fortnight.

  • Outdoor live events will be banned in the five areas for the next two weeks.

ITV News Scotland Correspondent Peter Smith explains what the new Covid restrictions mean

Ms Sturgeon said she was “grateful” for the work done by hospitality businesses to stop the spread of coronavirus, as she announced tough new measures.

Speaking to MSPs, the First Minister said: “However, the evidence paper published today sets out why these settings present a particular risk.

“The R number seems to have risen above 1 approximately three weeks after the hospitality sector opened up.

“We know that more than one fifth of people contacted by test and trace, report having visited a hospitality setting.”

She added: “All of these reasons, significantly restricting licensed premises for 16 days temporarily removes one of the key opportunities the virus has to jump from household to household.

“It is an essential part of our efforts to get the R number significantly below 1.”

Nicola Sturgeon. Credit: PA

The news comes following an increase in cases across the country, something Ms Sturgeon links to the reopening of the hospitality industry in the first place.

Scotland recorded 1,054 new coronavirus cases in 24 hours, according to figures published shortly before Ms Sturgeon’s parliamentary statement.

The record high figure was published by the Scottish Government from Health Protection Scotland data.

One further death of a patient within 28 days of first testing positive for the virus was registered in the past 24 hours, taking this total to 2,533.

The new cases represent 13.0% of newly-tested individuals, down from 13.2% on Tuesday.

Of the new cases, 410 are in Greater Glasgow and Clyde, 195 in Lanarkshire and 190 in Lothian.

Customers at a pub in Edinburgh. Credit: PA

In order to limit the impact on the premises forced to close, Ms Sturgeon has made £40m available to the businesses impacted.

Research has shown that the country it is likely to return to peak levels of the virus felt in spring later in October. 

People in the central belt of Scotland have also been asked to avoid public transport unless absolutely necessary in the next two weeks.

Despite the new announcements, educational establishments will not be closed like they were at the beginning of the pandemic.

“Let me be clear. We are not going back into lockdown today," Ms Sturgeon said.

“We are not closing schools, colleges or universities.

“We are not halting the remobilisation of the NHS for non-Covid care. And we are not asking people to stay at home.

“So while the measures I announce today will feel like a backward step, they are in the interests of protecting our progress overall.

“It is by taking the tough but necessary action now, that we hope to avoid even tougher action in future.”