Sturgeon: no outdoor opening until at least July

First minister concerned about “hotspots for transmission”

SCOTLAND’S first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, has announced that pub, bar and restaurant outdoor areas will not be able to reopen until at least July.

When the Scottish Government unveiled its route map out of lockdown the opening of outdoor areas had been included in phase two of the plan, although it stated that not all of the phase two measures would necessarily happen at once.

Sturgeon said in the Scottish Parliament today (June 18) that, although the country is now moving into the second phase of the route map, with venues such as street-access shops and outdoor markets able to reopen in the coming days, a decision on pub and bar outdoor areas will not be taken until Thursday, July 2.

One change that was envisaged in the route map for phase two was the reopening of outdoor hospitality such as beer gardens,” said Sturgeon.

“Unfortunately I am not able to give a date for that just yet. We may be able to set a date later that is within phase two but I have commissioned further advice from our scientific advisory group to inform this decision.

“There is emerging evidence that places like pubs, restaurants and gyms can be hotspots for transmission. So it’s really important that we really understand this evidence and what further mitigation might be necessary to protect people in such spaces before we permit them to reopen.

“I appreciate this will be hard for the hospitality industry and I want to give my assurance to businesses in that sector that we will continue to support preparations for reopening, for example by encouraging local authorities to facilitate the use of open outdoor spaces that pubs and restaurants can use for additional space.

“I expect to have this further scientific advice in two weeks and I will set out then, hopefully on or around July 2, whether outdoor hospitality can reopen during phase two – which I hope will be the case – or if further mitigations are required ahead of phase three.

“I understand the desire of all businesses to reopen quickly. However it is vital that when services and venues do reopen they do so safely and in a way that is consistent with continued suppression of the virus.

“That is how we best avoid a resurgence of it that could lead to businesses having to close down all over again.”

Sturgeon added that she has “also commissioned further advice from the advisory group on physical distancing requirements”.

“Let me be clear that the advice and evidence we have at this time supports physical distancing at two metres,” she said.