Warnings of pub and restaurant closures following new restrictions in Scotland

  • Video report and article by Tim Backshall.

Some pubs and restaurants in Scotland say they could be forced out of business due to the tough new restrictions coming into force on Friday.

Nicola Sturgeon on Wednesday that, for 16 days, licensed premises in our region will only be able to sell alcohol outdoors. That's leading many to close temporarily. There's also a warning from one hospitality group that some may not reopen.

The Bank bar in Dumfries has decided it has to shut for the entire 16 days.

"It's a blow for us. We are predominantly alcohol based so it's going to be a shutdown for us," says Laura Scott. "There's not much choice. It's not viable for us to open while these restrictions are so tight especially the time as well. 6am to 6pm doesn't fall into our normal opening hours and not really what our clientele are looking for."

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In Lockerbie the Scottish Hospitality Group predicts that some businesses will be closing for good.

"We're allowed to serve alcohol outside in the beer garden but looking at the weekend forecast and the next couple of weeks it's not looking good. Customer confidence is completely knocked. It was bad before and now it really has gone. We've had nothing but cancellations." 

While the Scottish Government says holidays can still go ahead it's advising people from the central belt not to travel to other areas and that's having an impact on the Solway View holiday park near Kirkcudbright. It has seen four cancellations since yesterday.

"If we had to refund everybody we would be in a total financial mess," says owner Neil Picken. 

"Most people are happy to say they will just carry it over but it can't go on. We need certainty." 

Credit: PA

At Holyrood, the First Minister was questioned about why businesses weren't asked for their views about the changes.

Scottish Labour Leader, Richard Leonard, asked her: "Why did you take this decision without consulting with, sharing the evidence with and preparing adequate support for those most affected?"

Nicola Sturgeon replied: "I do stand every day and update people on the state of our thinking on the factors we are taking into account and the decision-making process we go through. These are not normal times.

"I do not get up in the morning and decide to close pubs for a policy reason. This is a global pandemic and we are trying to save lives and balance that with the interests of the economy."

It's likely to be some weeks before we find out if the moves to reduce coronavirus have been successful and what the full cost will have been for the hospitality sector.