Self-isolation changes welcomed by trade groups

Fresh calls for clarity on end to hospitality restrictions and closures

Staff member with face mask

CHANGES to the COVID self-isolation rules in Scotland which kick in today (6th January) have been welcomed by hospitality industry groups, which say the measures will help ease staffing pressures for those venues able to trade.

First minister Nicola Sturgeon confirmed yesterday (5th January) that the self-isolation period for those who test positive for COVID can be cut from ten days to seven from today – providing that person has no fever and records two negative lateral flow tests (LFTs). She said that close contacts of positive cases who are fully vaccinated (two vaccines and a booster or three vaccines) will no longer be required to self-isolate providing they record a negative LFT every day for seven days ( Sturgeon also said that current hospitality measures, which include table service, one-metre physical distancing between groups and restrictions on large gatherings, and the closure of nightclubs are expected to remain in place until 17th January; and that the Scottish Government would publish a revised strategic framework in the “next few weeks” outlining how it intends to manage the virus going forward.

Changes to the self-isolation rules, which bring Scotland into line with the rest of the UK, have been welcomed by trade groups – but they have issued fresh calls for clarity on when restrictions will end.

Leon Thompson, executive director at UK Hospitality Scotland, said: “The reduction from ten to seven days for self-isolation will be welcomed by the Scottish hospitality businesses that are able to trade at reasonable levels and thus require greater numbers of their team.

“However, with no easing of restrictions or reversal of closures until at least 17th January, [yesterday’s] announcement leaves the future of jobs and livelihoods remain hanging in the balance.

“Christmas and Hogmanay were a write-off for many of our businesses. The ongoing uncertainty on how, or indeed if, sporting and business events can take place over coming weeks and months is now sapping business and consumer confidence further. If the uncertainty around restrictions continues, Easter bookings and trade will suffer, too, as holidaymakers from Scotland and the rest of the UK decide to travel elsewhere.

“Financial support for hospitality is yet to reach struggling businesses – even when it does, it will help with some immediate costs but won’t save the struggling hospitality venues that so desperately need to trade at full capacity.

“Above all, those businesses need clarity on when restrictions will be lifted and recognition from the Scottish Government that future restrictions on hospitality are not the way out of the current phase of the pandemic.”

The Scottish Licensed Trade Association (SLTA) also welcomed changes to the self-isolation rules, saying they will “help relieve the pressure on staffing issues”.

“We now hope that the current restrictions in place, including table service and one-metre physical distancing between groups of customers in premises serving alcohol, plus the limits on events will be lifted on 17th January,” said SLTA managing director Colin Wilkinson.

“Meanwhile, we urge the first minister to outline details of the new road map for dealing with COVID-19 that she referred to [yesterday] as soon as possible to help businesses plan for the next few months.”