Scottish curfew would be ‘catastrophic’ for on-trade

18th September, 2020 by Owen Bellwood

As restrictions are enforced on the on-trade in North East England, a trade group has warned that curfews on bars in Scotland would be “catastrophic” for the hospitality industry.

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A curfew on bars in Scotland would be ‘catastrophic’ said The Scottish Hospitality Group

Tighter lockdown restrictions go into force today (18 September) in the north east of England to stem the spread of Covid-19.

The measures implemented in Northumberland, North and South Tyneside, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Gateshead, Sunderland and County Durham include a 10pm curfew for bars, pubs and restaurants.

After 290 cases of the virus were confirmed in Scotland yesterday, Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon said she could not “categorically” rule out stricter lockdown measures in the country, including curfews for Scotland’s on-trade.

She said: “I can’t stand here and rule anything categorically out. We see other countries that have introduced curfews on hospitality, including Belgium, which they think have had an impact.

“These are all things that we have to keep under review. But I don’t want to have to do any of these things.”

In response, industry body The Scottish Hospitality Group (SHG) has warned that “a national curfew in Scotland would be catastrophic for the hospitality industry”.

Stephen Montgomery, spokesperson for the SHG, said: “The current  ‘rule of six’ restriction has meant that we are on life support. Further restrictions will flick the switch for many businesses, that once closed will not be able to open their doors again. This will principally hit late-night venue owners who have invested significantly to adapt their premises to bar service.

“We are asking that the Scottish government does not take this blanket approach. Responsible bar, restaurant and late-night venue owners across Scotland have enhanced hygiene measures and controlled physical distancing in place. They are also essential to the effective use of the track and trace system. If people have nowhere to go you are massively increasing the risk of more house parties and irresponsible gatherings, where track and trace is almost impossible.

“The vast majority of bars and restaurants are operating safely. We have been adhering religiously to every regulation that has been introduced by the Scottish government and we will continue to do so. Compliance and maintaining a unified sector are critical and something that the SHG fully supports, but tighter restrictions may encourage rogue traders which must be avoided at all costs.”

Last month, it was reported that more than half of drinkers in the UK remain hesitant about returning to bars and pubs following lockdown.

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