Responding to the Coronavirus (Covid-19): framework for decision-making – Scotland’s route map through and out of the crisis, announced yesterday by the First Minister, SLTA managing director Colin Wilkinson said: “We welcome the release of the Scottish Government’s route map to recovery and see this as an important start to a return to some sort of normality whatever that may be.

“There were no real surprises in the recovery plan announced and, as we all suspected, the licensed trade will be one of the last to fully reopen.

“The announcement that licensed premises with outdoor areas will be able to reopen 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 2 metres, 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 there should be no canopies, side screens, marquees etc – otherwise what’s the difference between being outdoors or 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.”

Nicola Sturgeon’s route map could see pubs and restaurants open outdoor spaces from the end of June. The four-phase plan envisages pubs and restaurants reopening their indoor spaces around the middle of July, with physical distancing and increased hygiene routines observed, before a full reopening in early August, depending on scientific guidance.

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