Scottish Licensed Trade Association (SLTA) has welcomed Nicola Sturgeon softened measures after sustained pressure from businesses and opposition parties to address soaring staff absences.
As per recently-made announcement, the self-isolation rules in Scotland have been reduced from 10 days to seven – providing people record two negative lateral flow tests and have no symptoms.
Testing advice has also changed – people do not have to book a PCR test if they produce a positive lateral flow result – instead, they should just begin isolating.
It is also good news that close contacts of positive cases will not now need to self-isolate and will be required to take a lateral flow test every day for seven days if they are fully vaccinated, including the booster, SLTA said.
SLTA managing director Colin Wilkinson said, “This will help relieve the pressure on staffing issues in the licensed hospitality industry – we have heard from some of our members that 30% of their staff are having to self-isolate while some premises have had to shut down completely as they have insufficient staff levels.
“This change has already been made in England, Wales and Northern Ireland so it makes sense for Scotland to follow the same path.
“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 which are hugely impacting the late-night industry which has been hit particularly hard since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, will be lifted on January 17.
“Our priority now is to ensure that the £66 million aid package announced before Christmas for hospitality reaches those businesses that need it most as quickly as possible with pubs, bars and restaurants prioritised over cafes, takeaways and multinational fast-food outlets which have not experienced the same devasting loss of business that the licensed hospitality sector has.
“We also need to ascertain what the Scottish Government’s plans are for the additional funds since made available and who will be eligible.
“Meanwhile, we urge the First Minister to outline details of the new road map for dealing with Covid-19 that she referred to today as soon as possible to help businesses plan for the next few months.”