WHEN WILL OUR VENUES OPEN SAFELY AGAIN?

The Scottish Government has published its roadmap on how lockdown will be gradually eased over the coming months. Phase 1 is expected to start this week, however our licensed venues will remain closed.

Phase 2 is the earliest any of our licensed premises will be able to open again. But only venues with outdoor areas and beer gardens will be allowed to operate with “physical distancing and increased hygiene routines” in place. As yet, we have been given no date when we can expect this to happen. Economy Secretary, Fiona Hyslop, recently made it clear that Scotland is several weeks behind the rest of the UK in terms of the virus, but that she is hopeful venues would open at some point in the summer.
 
Phase three would see pubs and restaurants’ indoor space allowed to reopen, but again with social distancing and hygiene measures in place. Finally, in Phase 4, all licensed venues will be open as normal - with improved public health advice. The Scottish Government is legally bound to review the restrictions every three weeks.
 
Colin Wilkinson, Managing Director of the Scottish Licensed Trade Association, has welcomed the news, stating that hopefully this is an important start to a return to some sort of normality whatever that may be.  
 
“The announcement that licensed premises with outdoor areas will be able to re-open sooner is of some comfort for those who can provide this facility and at a scale which makes it viable to do so and can overcome social distancing restriction, but for most, those with a small or no outside area, there is no early reprieve.

“For those who might now consider to use an area they have not used before there are the onerous hurdles of planning and licensing requirements to overcome, not to mention costs.  Let’s also not forget social distancing measures that will need to be put in place, which if maintained at the current level of 2m, could cut normal capacity by between 60% and 80%.

“Last, but not least, the Scottish weather comes into the fray and if outdoor areas are to be truly outdoor, then no canopies, side screens, marquees etc. otherwise what’s the difference with being in an indoor area?

“The bottom line is that each business will need to assess the practicalities, cost and viability of opening up an outdoor area.   Governments must not see this initial partial opening opportunity and the future full opening of the industry, both with social distancing restrictions in place, as a marker to phase out the vital ongoing and additional support this industry will need for the months, if not years, ahead.”
 


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