In a ”sharp action” bid to curb the spread of new Covid-19 cases, Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has announced a ban on indoor alcohol sales for over two weeks in response to the growing number of confirmed Covid-19 cases. With cases growing rapidly around the UK, it had been expected that there would be some action taken, though few believed the Scottish Government would go this far.

From Friday 9 October at 6pm, pubs, restaurants, bars and cafés must abide by strict opening hours of 6am – 6pm, and will only be allowed to sell non-alcoholic drinks and food inside. Sales of alcohol will be permitted outdoors until the curfew begins on 10pm on Friday. The five areas most affected by the virus will see a full lockdown of all licensed premises, with no sales permitted of any kind, though takeaway will be permitted. The areas subject to this increased lockdown are Greater Glasgow and Clyde, Ayrshire and Arran, Lanarkshire, the Lothians, and Forth Valley.

Chief Executive of Scotland Food and Drink, James Withers, referred to the measures as “a hammer blow to Scotland’s hospitality sector and the businesses that rely on it”, fearing the wider impact on the supply chain, with manufacturers reliant on sales in the hospitality sector.

With the On-Trade already suffering globally, this will not be welcome news for Scottish outlets. Covid-19 has caused major damage to the industry, and after briefly looking like lockdowns were being repealed, this news will have been particularly damaging to the On-Trade after a period of cautious optimism.

There are already major fears that many smaller businesses will not be able to re-open after this latest ban is over. Many On-Trade outlets are reliant on indoor alcohol sales to drive value, and with a heavy loss of footfall already, this could be too much damage for businesses to absorb.

However, the First Minister of Scotland has stated that £40m in crisis funding will be made available to businesses in the most need. Many businesses worry that this will not be enough, and that it will result in long-lasting damage to the Scottish hospitality sector.

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