First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has announced Scotland’s phased plan to ease the country out of lockdown and reintroduce the variable levels approach.
Sturgeon yesterday unveiled a ‘revised strategic framework’ which comprises four phases, but fails to detail when hospitality venues will be able to reopen fully.
The tentative time scale will start from late April, with Scotland then moving back into a levels system from the last week of that month.
The news has been met with disappointment from Scotland’s hospitality leaders, with many calling for the plan to allow hotels, pubs and restaurant to fully reopen on May 17, in line with England’s proposed date.
The framework began on Monday with the reopening of some schools.
Phase 2, March 15, will see more schools permitted to open with non-contact outdoor group sports for teenagers allowed. Socialising rules will be eased to allow outdoor meetings of four people from two households.
Phase 3 on April 5 will see the stay at home order lifted, places of worship allowed to reopen and some retailers able to resume trading.
On April 26, Sturgeon will return the country to the variable levels approach, gradually opening up the rest of the economy after this date.
The measures will be reviewed again in mid-May.
It means that hospitality businesses will be moved down a level to level three from April 26.
While level three rules were set out in the previous tiered lockdown, Sturgeon confirmed the system will be introduced “possibly with some revisions to the content of the levels”.
Under previous restrictions, the sale of alcohol was not permitted in indoor or outdoor hospitality settings, and although food was allowed to be served, all venues were required to close at 6pm.
Takeaways were permitted for alcohol and food “as per existing arrangements”.
UKHospitality Scotland executive director Willie Macleod said: “A reopening date, even an ambiguous one, is a small step in the right direction for businesses that have been closed. The priority for Scottish hospitality businesses is getting their doors open again and welcoming back customers. Businesses desperately need revenue and they cannot hope to survive if they remain closed for much longer.
“We need much more detail, though, to really get to grips with the challenge of reopening. We will need details of the type of restrictions businesses will be under and the timeframe for easing them.
“It appears that hospitality will be shunted back into unrealistic level 3 restrictions, which will be immensely damaging for the sector. We cannot expect businesses to survive such severe constraints on trading over such a prolonged period and face yet more uncertainty. It seems that Scottish residents will remain unable to travel beyond local authority boundaries, visitors from the rest of the UK will be prevented from travelling to and within Scotland and international travel remains strangled.
“We must remember that severe restrictions seriously undermine a business’s ability to trade and we cannot expect them to survive if restrictions remain in place for too long. We need confirmation from the Scottish Government at the earliest opportunity that this will not be the case.”