Coronavirus: Fresh calls for one metre social distancing

A 200-capacity venue could only accommodate 25 people under two-metre rule, study shows

Hands holding three pints of beer at a bar

THE Scottish Government must consider reducing social distancing parameters to one metre – in line with World Health Organisation recommendations – if pubs, bars and restaurants are to be viable when they reopen.

That is the message from groups including the Scottish Licensed Trade Association (SLTA) and British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA), which have warned that there could be significant job losses and business failures if the existing two-metre requirement is retained.

Working with trade groups the Licensed Vintners Association & the Vintners’ Federation of Ireland and Hospitality Ulster, the SLTA commissioned a study into occupancy numbers under both a two-metre and one-metre rule.

The results, said the SLTA, were “deeply concerning”.

According to the study, a venue with a 100 square-metres of standing space and a normal capacity of 200 people would have a capacity of just 25 people under a two-metre rule.

If the social distancing rule was cut to one metre, which has already been adopted in countries including France in line with recommendations from the World Health Organisation, the capacity in that same venue would be 100 people.

The SLTA said the change “might just make the difference in business survival”.

The importance of a one-metre social distancing rule was underlined by the BBPA, which has warned that two-thirds of UK pubs could be lost if governments insist on two metres of social distancing in venues.

BBPA chief executive, Emma McClarkin, said cutting the physical distancing rule from two metres to one would increase the number of pubs that could safely reopen from one-third to three-quarters. “Under two-metre social distancing rules, pubs will have less space to operate with so will need less staff,” she said.

“Many pubs won’t even be able to reopen, yet they could be expected to cover part of their staff furlough costs from August without any money coming in.

“Such a situation would mean either pubs closing for good or jobs being lost.”