Scottish pubs lash out at ‘catastrophic’ Covid crackdown | UK news

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The Scottish government is facing a fierce backlash after Nicola Sturgeon announced a crackdown on indoor drinking in licensed premises, as one leading adviser said more needed to be done to ensure people were sticking to the rules in their own homes.

Scottish pub, bar and restaurant owners expressed anger and despair at “catastrophic” and “scapegoating” new regulations that are set to last for 16 days across the country, and people on online forums decried the “prohibition” that would result from harsher restrictions in central Scotland.

From 6pm on Friday, all pubs and restaurants in the five health board areas where infections are accelerating fastest: Greater Glasgow and Clyde, Lanarkshire, Ayrshire and Arran, Lothian and Forth Valley, will have to close, both indoors and outdoors, although they can still serve takeaways.

Pubs, bars, restaurants and cafes in the rest of Scotland will not be allowed to serve alcohol indoors, and can only open between 6am and 6pm for food and non-alcoholic drinks. Licensed premises away from the central belt can continue to serve alcohol outdoors until the 10pm curfew that was introduced last month.

Mario Gizzi, the head of the DiMaggio’s restaurant group in Glasgow and a member of the Scottish Hospitality Group, described the mood in the sector as despondent. “Hospitality is getting picked on, with no data from the Scottish government to show how transmission is happening in bars and restaurants, despite us asking for it,” he said.

A Scottish government evidence paper published on Wednesday to coincide with Sturgeon’s announcement in Holyrood states that between the end of July and the beginning of October, 26% of people who tested positive for Covid-19 reported having visited hospitality venues. However, it is impossible to tell exactly where an individual had been infected.

Speaking on BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland programme, the deputy first minister, John Swinney, said the government had to “stop the opportunities for interaction where the virus can spread, that appears to be emerging from some aspects of the hospitality sector”.

But Gizzi said his restaurants had served more than 1.8 million customers since July and had only 17 confirmed cases of coronavirus among staff.

He said more than 25% of staff at the group were under the age of 25. “These young people are using it as a career path or a stepping stone or to support themselves through university. There is a real danger that they are going to become a wilderness generation,” he said.

Steven Reicher, a professor of social psychology at the University of St Andrews who has advised the Scottish and UK governments on compliance with coronavirus guidelines, said regulating people’s behaviour at home remained key, and there was a need for better and more consistent messaging to cut through natural assumptions that it is safer to be at home with people you know.

“The question is: will [closure of pubs] lead to people doing other things they shouldn’t do, like gathering in their houses? It might be that you can’t go to the pub but if you are disaffected you will invite people round.”

Reicher said he had seen figures from Police Scotland showing that they had been called to very few household gatherings of more than 15 people. “Part of the problem is that the way things have been represented, these awful demonic ‘other’ of young people having house parties, makes everyone else feel complacent and so they don’t take things seriously.”

With central Scotland now braced for the harshest restrictions anywhere in the UK, Reicher also said any sense that the new rules were unfair would undermine compliance. “It’s not fatigue, it’s feeling that if it’s justified they will do it. The good news is that the levels of trust are higher in Scotland than in England, and it is still true that the majority of Scots still want more to be done.”

Hafta Ichi
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: Scottish pubs lash out at ‘catastrophic’ Covid crackdown | UK news

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