Glasgow nightclubs can apply to operate as bars during pandemic

Plans approved at board meeting mean venue operating plans can be temporarily changed

GLASGOW nightclub operators can now apply to temporarily operate their venues as bars after the licensing board approved a short-term change to the city’s licensing process.

At a meeting of the board on Friday (September 4), members approved the introduction of a ‘temporary minor variation application’, which will allow club operators to temporarily alter their premises licence, operating plan and layout plan without the need to go through the usual major variation process.

The changes will allow nightclubs in the board area to open between 11am and midnight every day, subject to Scottish Government guidelines on COVID-19 and with customers seated at tables.

The temporary minor variation application will require the premises licence holder to submit a draft operating plan, layout plan and COVID-19 risk assessment along with a fee of £20. The board has said it expects applications to be processed within a week.

If granted, the variation would take effect for a temporary period, to be reviewed in line with Scottish Government guidance.

Councillor Matt Kerr, chair of Glasgow licensing board, said: “Unfortunately there’s no sign of COVID-19 disappearing any time soon and the impact of the virus will be felt for the foreseeable future.

“Glasgow’s licensed trade supports thousands of jobs and we must do everything we can to support this vital part of city’s economy.

“There’s no real prospect that the restrictions on nightclubs are going to be lifted in the near future and that means owners have a massive challenge to deal with.

“So we have to be flexible enough to give operators an opportunity to reshape their business to operate as an ordinary bar.

“These are very much temporary measures intended to give licence holders a fighting chance to protect jobs in the middle of an unprecedented situation.

“But applications will be fully assessed by the police and the City Services team to make sure any changes will meet licensing, environmental and building standards.

“If given the go ahead, premises must comply with the restrictions designed to suppress the spread of the virus or there is clear risk temporary licences will be revoked.

“But everything I have seen indicates the city’s licensed trade is working exceptionally hard to ensure they can trade while keeping staff and customers safe.”