Forbes: ‘likely summer and beyond’ for reopening of pubs


SCOTTISH finance secretary Kate Forbes has indicated that it is likely to be “summer and beyond” before Scotland’s pubs and bars are able to reopen.

Speaking on BBC Debate Night Forbes said transitioning from lockdown in Scotland is likely to be “phased” with those businesses able to operate with social distancing in place the first to return to operation.

“Unfortunately because social distancing is still fundamental to reducing the transmission of the virus, it’s unlikely that businesses where people are sitting close together – or dancing close together – are going to be opening anytime soon,” she said.

Asked if it was likely that Scottish pubs will be open before the end of the summer, Forbes replied: “Well I think it’s very difficult to put a date on it but I think it’s unlikely that we will be unlocking in the next few days and after that it’s another three weeks before we review lockdown again.

“So at that point you’re looking at what are some of the first businesses that might be in a position [to trade]. And if you keep working backwards then we’re talking, certainly, summer and beyond for some of these businesses.

“But a lot of it will depend, too, on how they can adapt. So can businesses change the structure of their business to allow for social distancing? And it might be that some businesses will be in a position to adapt and to change what they do. We’ve already seen it during lockdown. We’ve seen some restaurants, for example, being able to adapt some of the work that they do.

“The key will be, while we don’t have a vaccine – and we don’t – the only way to halt the spread of the virus is through social distancing because of human contact. And that will have to be the main way of determining what businesses might be able to resume.”

Prime minister Boris Johnson is due to outline plans for the coming weeks on Sunday. However, the devolved administrations have the power to diverge from those plans and set their own timetables for ending the lockdown.