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Not here for a beer with the 2m rule

  • Date: Monday 22nd June 2020
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Scotland’s stalled tourism and hospitality industry has been given a provisional date for reopening of 15 July – finally, a glimmer of hope. The long awaited date is conditional on the Scottish Government’s route map for easing lockdown restrictions. All going to plan, phase three will allow struggling businesses to salvage some of the all-important summer season.

The date provides some degree of clarity, businesses will now be able to plan and work toward ensuring necessary guidelines are in place. The adaptations may not be straightforward. Businesses will need to grapple with the introduction of personal protective equipment for both staff and customers, stringent hygiene standards and the now, all too familiar, social distancing.

Interestingly, tourism and hospitality businesses are concerned over social distancing. They say the two-metre measure potentially limits trading capacity – and looking into a recent survey from the Scottish Beer and Pub Association (SPBA) and a group of industry leaders, it easy to see why.

The survey, which covered over 300 pubs across Scotland (around 7% of the total), found that it would not be financially viable for almost nine out of ten landlords to reopen their doors if the two-metre distancing guidelines were still in place – potentially leading to the direct loss of over 23,600 jobs within the trade.

Those types of stats are worrying to say the least. The licensed trade alone is a significant part of the Scottish economy and a huge employer as a result. With the Scottish Government blinkered to keeping a two metre distancing rule, Scotland’s pubs and restaurants could be decimated if they don’t re-evaluate their approach.

Globally the advice on social distancing is varied; The WHO, Hong Kong, France and China all say that 1m apart is enough. Meanwhile Australia, Germany and the Netherlands recommend 1.5m.

With many of Scotland’s key independent restaurant and pub businesses coming together to call for the Scottish Government to fall in-line with the World Health Organisation’s guidance, including a one-metre rule for social distancing, it’s hoped that their approach will help kick-start the industry and save jobs in the hospitality sector.

The group leading the charge for Scotland’s licensed trade includes Star Pubs and Bars, Belhaven, Hawthorn Leisure, Admiral Taverns, Punch Taverns, Caledonian Heritable Ltd, DRG, Buzzworks, Montpeliers, Manorview, Signature Pubs, Lisini and Caledonia Inns – a veritable who’s who within the industry.

More importantly, they know the industry inside out and the Scottish Government would do well to listen to them.

It is incredible what falling in-line with the World Health Organisation’s guidance, including a one-metre rule for social distancing, would do for the licensed trade. Looking through the survey, 82 per cent of licensed businesses would be able to open their doors to the public, helping to secure their staff’s livelihood and providing a much needed boost to the industry.

Let’s be clear here. The licensed trade is both one of the most self-policed sectors and is under constant scrutiny from councils, police and regulatory bodies - step out of line and you lose your license. 

So if there was a type of business who could ensure the safety of its patrons and staff, you would be hard placed to find better than the licensed trade.

The group were at pains to point this out last week stating that as responsible license holders, not only could venues be classed as ‘controlled environments’ that would allow them to track and trace customers through a number of different methods, their survey concluded over 85 per cent of those businesses polled planned to use PPE for staff when able to reopen.

Without doubt, keeping a two-metre rule in place simply does not make financial sense for the licensed trade to open their doors come the 15 July. The fall out will see the loss of thousands of jobs affecting both the Scottish economy and local communities in the process.

We need to kick start the Scottish economy in as many ways as we can whilst we exit lockdown, however Scottish ministers are sticking to the two-metre pledge, for the time being at least, in accordance with their own scientific evidence and advice.

It strikes me though that things will remain distinctly unpalatable for Scotland’s hospitality and tourism sector until social distancing is relaxed.  



Tourism has been singled out as one of the sectors that could end up the hardest hit in Scotland as a result of the current situation. 


As a nation who prides itself on its tourist industry, it makes sense that a huge number of people’s livelihoods depend on visitors coming and spending their money here. 


While it may be a long time until our tourism industry is back to the same level as it was pre-COVID, it’s extremely encouraging to see some early indicators of the sector gearing up to re-open in the near future. 


Providing the lockdown exit strategy stays on track, hotels, B&Bs and museums could be next in line to re-open after bars and restaurants, many of which have already begun to welcome guests back to outdoor areas. 


Camping and caravan sites are also expected to reopen next month, giving Scots the option of a holiday at home this summer.  Even those who may have turned up their noses in the past at the thought of spending a week in a tent are likely to be yearning for a getaway and hopes of snapping up some Scottish sun - so I’m sure plenty of us will be more than happy with this option.


I think holidaying at home is a great option, and while our tourism sector is set to see a downturn in visitors coming from other countries this year, it’s a fantastic way to support the Scottish economy.


A staycation gives you the opportunity to see parts of the country you may never have visited before, and with so many beautiful places right on our doorstep, who needs to go abroad?




A Kirkintilloch school girl has caught the attention of the First Minister thanks to a cheeky poem she penned about life in lockdown. 


The ‘Glesga poem’ perfectly sums up the situation we all find ourselves in right now, and includes hilarious lines like ‘Lockdoon, naw fur me, A could really go a cup eh ma Granny's tea’ and ‘Ma wee sister's rippin me it the seams, quarantine, phonin how ye been?'


The talented eight year old, Leah Begg, received a letter from Nicola Sturgeon praising her poetry and thanking her for summing up the mood of the nation. I’m sure this isn’t the last we’ll hear of the youngster and hope her next poem is about finally getting her hands on one of her Granny’s cups of tea! 



I was saddened to hear volunteers in Edinburgh raised concerns last week about the long-term impact this pandemic is going to have on the city’s homeless. 

While a huge amount of work has been done over the past few months to get people off the streets and into accommodation, which is to be commended. However, there is a fear that public funds may start to dry up at some point, and as the economic situation worsens, an unprecedented number of people could find themselves homeless. 


This is a cause very close to my heart and I hope that those who have worked so incredibly hard to help the homeless in recent months, from social workers to volunteers, can continue to come together to think of innovative ways to help tackle the problem in the long term. 













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