Nicola Sturgeon has banned the sale of alcohol indoors in Scotland’s hospitality venues for 16 days in a bid to curb a second spike in Covid.
From Friday, hospitality venues will only be able to open indoors between 6am and 6pm, and will not be able to serve alcohol in these settings.
Hospitality venues in most of the country will still be able to serve alcohol outside until 10pm, however existing rule of six restrictions still apply.
Five areas in Scotland – including Greater Glasgow and Lothian – will have a total ban on buying alcohol in hospitality venues.
Venues in these areas without alcohol licenses can still operate until 6pm.
The measures will not apply for some events, such as already booked weddings.
Sturgeon also announced that £40m of funding will be spent on supporting businesses affected by the new measures.
“I know that the vast majority of pubs, bars and restaurants have worked exceptionally hard to ensure the safety of their staff and customers and I’m deeply grateful or that and I know how tough these restrictions are for the hospitality sector,” Sturgeon said.
“But the evidence paper published today sets out why these settings pose a particular risk. The R number appears to have risen above one approximately three weeks after the hospitality sector opened up and we know more than one-fifth of people contacted by test and protect having visited a hospitality setting.
“It does show these settings pose a particular risk to transmitting the virus.”
Scotland is averaging around 750 Covid cases a day currently, which is up 285 from two weeks ago.
Sturgeon said the country was recording cases at 13 per cent of peak levels in March.
However, the Scottish First Minister warned that the spread of the virus would hit March levels without new restrictions.
Responding to the restrictions, Christopher Snowdon, head of lifestyle economics at the free market Institute for Economic Affairs think tank, said: “The pub industry is once again being made the scapegoat despite only five per cent of Covid-19 transmissions taking place in hospitality venues.
“The additional ban on drinking in restaurants suggests an element of temperance fervour from the Scottish government. Pubs, restaurants and the many jobs that depend on them are now hanging by a thread.”