Changes for the wider hospitality industry in Scotland

Strike up the band

Covid 19 has decimated many sectors of the trade but none more so than the events industry. 24 August sees the first tentative reopening with provision now in place for some outdoor live events (in addition to the previously permitted drive in events). 

Outdoor Seated Live Events and Outdoor Open Spaces Live Events are now permitted with restricted numbers at a maximum of 200, and 2m physical distancing with enhanced hygiene measures in place.

However, the Scottish Government guidance makes it clear that outdoor events may not take place in general hospitality areas, such as beer gardens that are currently operating for the serving of food and drink, and are subject to a 1 metre physical distancing exemption.

The full guidance can be read here.

Our reading of this is not, as some commentators have said, a prohibition on external events at hospitality venues per se. Rather the Government are setting the conditions under which an outdoor event at a hospitality venue can take place. Namely, it must be a bone fide event (not something going on as a backdrop to food and drink service), subject to a bespoke risk assessment and have minimum social distancing increased to 2m. Depending on how such areas are currently licensed operators may therefore need to apply for specific permissions or liaise with the licensing board/ local authority for approval.

Let the games commence

With revenues squeezed, many pubs (and their patrons) have been missing the use of facilities like pub darts, fruit machines and pool tables. These are now permitted from 24 August but must be risk assessed.  

Robust cleaning procedures, physical distancing and appropriate customer behaviour are paramount.  Customers using pool tables should be encouraged to wear face coverings as this is a requirement in snooker and pool halls. Darts may be played but only if there is a dedicated space for play away from thoroughfares i.e. in a separate room, and where there is adequate space to ensure physical distancing, along with risk assessed robust cleaning procedures, with no sharing of darts. Sadly, the past time of dominoes is not yet possible at this time.  

Further bespoke sectors noted below also get the green light from today:

  • Bingo halls can re-open with physical distancing and following guidance,
  • Amusement arcades and casinos can re-open following guidance, 
  • Snooker/pool halls and indoor bowling can re-open – following guidance, 
  • Funfairs – both static and travelling – can re-open, following guidance.

Please refer to additional guidance for all the above-mentioned sectors (which is awaited at the time of writing).

This publication is intended for general guidance and represents our understanding of the relevant law and practice as at August 2020. Specific advice should be sought for specific cases. For more information see our terms & conditions.


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