Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, has said the country’s current Covid-19 restrictions will likely remain for three additional weeks.
The whole of Scotland had been due to move to level 0 of its five-tier system from 28 June, but this now looks to be delayed until around the same date as England’s restrictions are now scheduled to be lifted, namely 19 July.
A formal decision will not be taken until next week, but Sturgeon announced yesterday that it was “reasonable to indicate now that I think it unlikely that any part of the country will move down a level” as planned.
For the hospitality industry, this means that socially-distanced operations will remain in place for the next 4 weeks, continuing to restrict capacities.
The Scottish Hospitality Group reacted to the development, with group spokesperson Stephen Montgomery commenting: “This is a never-ending hell for hospitality workers and the businesses that employ them, especially those in the music and night-time sectors. However, if the Scottish government is seriously going to consider better ways of managing our path through Covid then we would welcome that.
“Now is the right time to revisit the practical suggestions we put forward several times at the government’s request, such as tweaking the tiers so it’s easier for responsible businesses to trade viably while still protecting people’s health.”
He added: “There are two other things we want from the Scottish government that they can do right now. The first is to get out from behind their desks to understand how better policy decisions can work for everyone. The second is to make sure there’s proper financial support for businesses that can’t trade viably for no fault of their own, including when one positive result means critical staff having to self-isolate.”
Scotland’s Covid case rate is currently five times higher than it was in early May. Sturgeon said the delay was necessary “to buy sufficient time for vaccination to get ahead and stay ahead of the virus, and that is the reason for caution at this juncture”.