Scotland Bans Sale of Alcohol Inside Pubs; UK Pub Closures, Job Losses Loom

EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND - OCTOBER 07: Charles Douglas Barr enjoys a pint outside The Las Drop pub in the Grassmarket on October 7, 2020 in Edinburgh, Scotland. New restrictions aimed at slowing a surge in coronavirus cases are to be announced by Scotland's first minister Nicola Sturgeon. (Photo by Jeff J …
Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has announced that pubs, restaurants, and licenced cafes will be banned from selling alcohol inside for more than two weeks.

The measures will come into effect from Friday until at least the 25th of October, with establishments only allowed to sell non-alcoholic drinks and food from 6 am to 6 pm. Outdoor hospitality venues may, however, continue to serve alcohol until the later 10 pm curfew.

Further restrictions have been put in Ayrshire and Arran, Forth Valley, Greater Glasgow and Clyde, Lanarkshire, and Lothian, where all alcohol-licenced premises must shut completely, according to The Mirror. Scots in these areas have been asked to avoid using public transportation “unless absolutely necessary”.

South of the border in England, Prime Minister Boris Johnson had imposed a 10 pm curfew on hospitality venues like pubs and restaurants last month. Critics have said that not only will the curfew kill jobs in the hospitality industry but forces all patrons out onto the street and public transport at the same time, doing little for government-mandated social distancing.

Mr Johnson had ordered the early closure following a rise in reported coronavirus cases; however, recent figures suggested that pubs, bars, and restaurants were responsible for only 3.2 per cent of new outbreaks.

Also on Wednesday, the UK’s biggest brewer and pub operator Greene King, founded in 1799, announced that it was going to temporarily close 79 pubs and restaurants, with around one-third of those closures expected to be permanent. They are also going to make some 800 staff redundant. The cutbacks come as a result of the fall in trade due to the government’s coronavirus restrictions.

The boss of the UK’s oldest brewery, Shepherd Neame, said last week that redundancies “look inevitable”. While budget beer chain Wetherspoons, owned by Brexiteer Tim Martin, announced late last month that it would be cutting around half of the 1,000 jobs at venues in six British airports. Whitbread is also cutting 6,000 jobs.

Pub chains Young’s and Fuller’s are also considering job cuts, with the latter saying that the government’s call for people to work from home will result in the company letting go of ten per cent of their staff — around 500 people.

On Friday, the British Beer & Pubs Association predicted 291,000 job losses, a third of the entire sector, as a result of coronavirus restrictions, with the data suggesting that 25 per cent of the country’s pubs could close.

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