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Article published 08/10/2020

New COVID-19 restrictions

New COVID-19 restrictions are in force from Friday 9 October until 25 October. These include restrictions on opening hours and selling alcohol across Scotland, with stricter restrictions across the central belt.

The Scottish Government has published an evidence paper by the government’s senior clinical advisers on the state of the virus in the country. There is concern about the increase of cases across five health boards in the central belt but it was noted there are marked increases in cases across the country. The paper also said Scotland would return to levels of prevalence seen in March by the end of the month unless action was taken now to interrupt its trajectory.

The First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the evidence paper had highlighted the risk of transmission posed by hospitality venues, with temporary closures helping to reduce the transmission of the virus between households. New measures are therefore being introduced to stem the increase in cases and set out further support for businesses.

New guidance is now available for tourism and hospitality businesses.

New guidance is also available for the events sector.

Temporary measures are planned to last for 16 days starting for licensed premises at 6pm on Friday 9 October and at 12.01am Saturday 10 October for all other restrictions. They will run until Sunday 25 October inclusive. Key points of change:

Greater Glasgow & Clyde, Lanarkshire, Ayrshire & Arran, Lothian and Forth Valley (Central belt)

Hospitality (food and drink premises)

  • Licensed premises must close. Only the parts of a licensed premises where food or drink are served have to close. For example, the bar in a licensed clubhouse would have to close, but the shop could remain open. Licensed cafes may open from 6am — 6pm (without alcohol sale or consumption).

  • Unlicensed premises may open between 6am and 6pm.

  • Current meeting rules apply: maximum of 6 people from 2 households.

  • Limited exemption for meals and drinks (without alcohol) for guests only in accommodation, transport and student residences that are licensed premises.

  • Exemption for specific life events (e.g. wedding receptions) – which may continue (with alcohol) as per current meeting rules (20 person limit in regulated premises).

  • Exemption for take-aways – subject to local licensing.

The rest of Scotland

Hospitality (food and drink premises)

  • All premises may only open indoors between 6am and 6pm, with no sale of alcohol.

  • All premises may open outdoors until 10pm, including for the sale of alcohol, if licensed to do so.

  • Current meeting rules apply in hospitality settings: maximum of 6 people from 2 households.

  • Limited exemption for meals and drinks (without alcohol) for guests only in accommodation, transport and student residences that are licensed premises.

  • Exemption for specific life events (e.g. wedding receptions), which may continue (with alcohol) as per current meeting rules (e.g. 20 person limit in regulated premises).

  • Exemption for take-aways – subject to local licensing.

Travel

  • The Scottish Government wants people to be safe. It is not advising that people who have already booked holiday accommodation in October need to cancel. More generally, please think about whether you need to travel, especially if you live in or would be travelling to, or through, the central belt.

  • The Scottish Government is asking people within the central belt areas to think carefully about whether they need to travel outside their local health board area and, where that is necessary, to plan to do so safely.

  • Working from home is expected of all those who can. Non-essential offices should remain closed.

  • Public transport use should be minimised as much as possible – such as for education and work - where it cannot be done from home.

  • Active travel (walking, cycling) is encouraged to leave safe space on public transport for those who have no alternative.

The First Minister said within her statement: "We are not imposing mandatory travel restrictions at this stage, and specifically, we are not insisting that people cancel any half term breaks they have planned.

"However, in general, we are advising people living in Greater Glasgow & Clyde, Lanarkshire, Ayrshire & Arran, Lothian and Forth Valley not to travel outside the health board area they live in, if you don’t need to - and likewise people in other parts of Scotland should not travel to these areas if they don’t need to."

Additional measures

  • No outdoor live events.

  • Face coverings: The Scottish Government will regulate on the use of face-coverings in indoor communal and social settings – for example in corridors, workplace canteens and break rooms etc.

  • Retail: Further transmission-reducing measures will be developed with the sector: for example, 2 metre distancing requirement and stronger communications activity on the importance of adhering to the regulations.

  • No group exercise classes for indoor gyms / sports courts, pools. (Exemption for under 18s.)

  • No contact sports / training – except professional sports, indoor or outdoor. (Exemption for under 18s.)

  • Snooker and pool halls, indoor bowling, casinos and bingo halls must close.

Funding announced

A £40 million fund to support businesses affected by the restrictions, particularly hospitality was also announced. We will add details of this Fund when we get them.

For the rest of the month, businesses could use the furlough scheme and the government would consider how to mitigate their contributions to the scheme.

Further information