LONDON (Reuters) – All pubs in Glasgow and Edinburgh will have to close for 16 days from Friday under the latest wave of COVID-19 restrictions in Scotland, a move one trade body called a “total catastrophe.”
The number of COVID-19 cases in Scotland has been accelerating since mid-September, with 1,054 new cases reported on Wednesday, driven by infections in the central belt, which includes Glasgow and Edinburgh.
“While the measures I announce today will feel like a backward step … they are in the interests of protecting our progress overall,” First Minister Nicola Sturgeon told the Scottish parliament.
“Without action … we are likely to return to the peak levels of infection we had in the spring by the end of this month.”
Beyond the central belt, pubs, restaurants and cafes will not be able to serve alcohol indoors, and can only serve food and non-alcoholic drinks between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. for the 16-day period.
They will be able to continue to serve alcohol outdoors until the existing curfew time of 10 p.m, she said.
The UK Hospitality trade association said the new curbs were “a total catastrophe” for a sector already on the brink.
“Forced closures will spell the end for many, many venues which have no cash flow and will have exhausted their reserves,” the association’s executive director for Scotland Willie Macleod said.
“It is likely to be the final straw for many that were only just hanging on. We are going to see businesses fold and many jobs lost.”
Sturgeon said she would provide an additional 40 million pounds ($52 million) to support affected businesses.
The areas where all licensed premises will have to close completely, with the exception of hotels for residents, are Greater Glasgow and Clyde, Lanarkshire, Ayrshire and Arran, Lothian and Forth Valley.
More restrictions will be imposed in those regions for two weeks from Oct. 10, including on indoor group exercise for over 18s.
(Editing by Stephen Addison)