Guide to Scotland hospitality restrictions

Struggling to get to grips with the new hospitality restrictions? Find out more with our guide


On Friday 30 October 2020 the Scottish Government published new regulations and guidance which underpin their new Strategic Framework.

The Strategic Framework is based on 5 levels.  Understanding what the implications are for your hospitality business, within each of the levels, (numbered 0-4) while challenging is nonetheless vital.  We are here to help.

Firstly, you must check and keep under review which level the Government has assigned to the local authority area in which your business operates.  Further information can be found here. Reviews of assigned levels will be carried out weekly by Government - so things can change fast.

Quick links:

Levels and their restrictions

Is there anything common across all levels?

Yes - across all levels hospitality businesses must:

  • Operate table service
  • Follow the rules on staff and customers wearing face coverings indoors
  • Take and maintain test and protect details
  • Maintain social distancing
  • Observe maximum group size and household limits

Beyond the above, the level assigned will impact which businesses can operate, the times of operation, the customer group sizes permitted, the breadth of service that can be offered indoors and outdoors, and whether / under what circumstances alcohol can be sold and consumed.

Below we will summarise the key restrictions for food hospitality businesses at each level.  This does not constitute exhaustive or tailored legal advice and you should contact us to discuss your individual circumstances.  If you operate a niche leisure business e.g. crazy golf, you should take specific legal advice as not every activity is expressly covered in the regulations.

Level 0

Businesses prohibited from operating

 

  • Nightclubs
  • Sexual entertainment venues

Operating times

  • Full licensed hours

 

Alcohol service

  • Unrestricted

Group size outdoors

  • 15 people
  • 5 households

Group size indoors

  • 8 people
  • 3 households

Weddings, civil partnerships & funerals

  • 50 people licensed hours


Level 0 is the closest the Government is prepared to permit life and socialising to return to pre-Covid levels

Level 1

Businesses prohibited from operating

 

  • Nightclubs
  • Sexual entertainment venues

Operating times

  • Last entry 21.30
  • Closed by 22.30

 

Alcohol service

  • Unrestricted

Group size outdoors

  • 6 people
  • 2 households

Group size indoors

  • 6 people
  • 2 households

Weddings, civil partnerships & funerals

  • 20 people
  • 22.30 terminal hour


Level 1 sees greater restrictions on group size, household numbers and a curfew introduced.

Level 2

Businesses prohibited from operating

 

  • Nightclubs
  • Sexual entertainment venues
  • a concert hall
  • any other venue which—

    (i) normally opens at night,

    (ii) has a dance floor or other space for dancing or spectating by members of the public (and for these purposes, members of staff of the venue in question are to be considered members of the public), and

    (iii) provides music, whether live or recorded

  • an indoor or outdoor theatre
  • a comedy club
  • a snooker or pool hall
  • a bowling alley
  • a casino
  • drinks only pubs/ bars

Operating times

  • Last entry 19.00
  • Closed by 20.00

 

Alcohol service

  • Indoors only with a main meal
  • Outdoors unrestricted

Group size outdoors

  • 6 people
  • 2 households

Group size indoors

  • 6 people
  • 2 households

Weddings, civil partnerships & funerals

  • 20 people
  • 22.00 terminal hour
  • Alcohol permitted


Level 2 sees a significant rise in the number of prohibited businesses. Group sizes and household numbers are restricted.  The curfew has come forward.  For bars, pubs and restaurants the most notable change is the requirement to only sell alcohol with a main meal indoors.  A drinks-only public house now must close.  The definition is any public house which does not have available on its premises facilities to allow the preparation and service of a meal such as might be expected to be served as the main midday or main evening meal, or as a main course at either such meal.  Alcohol service outdoors need not be with food.

Level 3

Businesses prohibited from operating

 

  • Nightclubs
  • Sexual entertainment venues
  • a concert hall
  • any other venue which—

    (i) normally opens at night,

    (ii) has a dance floor or other space for dancing or spectating by members of the public (and for these purposes, members of staff of the venue in question are to be considered members of the public), and

    (iii) provides music, whether live or recorded

  • an indoor or outdoor theatre
  • a comedy club
  • a snooker or pool hall
  • a bowling alley
  • a casino
  • cinema
  • bingo hall
  • drinks only pubs/ bars

Operating times

  • Last entry 17.00
  • Closed by 18.00

 

Alcohol service

  • Not permitted

Group size outdoors

  • 6 people
  • 2 households

Group size indoors

  • 6 people
  • 2 households

Weddings, civil partnerships & funerals

  • 20 people
  • 22.00
  • Alcohol permitted

 

Level 3 means that premises are prohibited from selling alcohol inside and outside and the curfew sees an end to evening service.

Level 4

Businesses prohibited from operating

 

  • nightclubs
  • sexual entertainment venues
  • a concert hall
  • any other venue which—

    (i) normally opens at night,

    (ii) has a dance floor or other space for dancing or spectating by members of the public (and for these purposes, members of staff of the venue in question are to be considered members of the public), and

    (iii) provides music, whether live or recorded

  • an indoor or outdoor theatre
  • a comedy club
  • a snooker or pool hall
  • a bowling alley
  • a casino
  • cinema
  • bingo hall
  • holiday accommodation
  • restaurant
  • café
  • public house
  • bar

Operating times

  • Closed

 

Alcohol service

  • Not permitted

Group size outdoors

  • NA

Group size indoors

  • NA

Weddings, civil partnerships & funerals

  • Receptions should not take place
  • 15 people
  • 22.00
  • Alcohol permitted


Level 4 is akin to a full lockdown for hospitality with the exception of catering for weddings, civil partnerships and funerals.

Key terms

Table meals

The requirement for a table meal to be served is key to Levels 2 and 3. A table meal is defined as a meal that is:

  1. prepared on the premises; and
  2. is one that would “…be served as the main midday or main evening meal (irrespective of the actual time of service), or as a main course at either such meal.”

The Government’s FAQs go to advise that they would expect a main meal to be more than a “mere snack”. Various matters are outlined as relevant considerations when deciding if a meal passes this test:

  • Is it eaten with cutlery?
  • Substantially filled sandwich or panini served with a side such as salad or chips are likely to be a meal.
  • Crisps, nuts, and bar snacks are not meals.

From a licensing perspective, your premises licence must authorise either bar meals or restaurant facilities, check the operating plan. In the absence of this permission, then you are unable to offer meals. Furthermore, it goes without saying that the premises needs to be registered as a food business with the local authority and have the relevant certificates in place.

Drinks-only public house

Under levels 2, 3, and 4 drinks-only public houses are not permitted to open. This means any premises which does not have on its premises facilities to allow the preparation and service of a meal that would fall into the definition of a table meal (see above). While the detail is open to debate, this would appear to cover premises where the premises licence authorities neither bar meals nor restaurant facilities.

Other resources

The Scottish Government has produced FAQs for the hospitality industry and TLT will be providing bulletins exploring the issues in specific levels and for individual businesses such as hotels in due course.

Further information in relation to weddings, civil partnerships, and funerals can be found here.


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