West of Scotland entering level 4

Implications and FAQs for hospitality businesses


Tougher restrictions to be implemented as of Friday 20 November

As expected the First Minister announced that hospitality in the West of Scotland and in some Central and Eastern areas* will enter level 4 of the Protection Levels Framework for a three week period as of 6pm on Friday 20 November 2020 effectively locking down hospitality businesses and non-essential retail.

The First Minister explained that the levels of Covid-19 remained stubbornly high, particularly across the West of Scotland and therefore, additional measures are to be implemented now primarily: (1) to reduce case numbers in advance of the winter so as to alleviate pressure on the NHS; and (2) in the hope that restrictions can be eased over the Christmas period. It is intended that the affected areas will leave level 4 after three weeks i.e on 11 December. There is a hope that these areas will move to level 2 shortly thereafter albeit the levels will be confirmed closer to 11 December.

What does level 4 mean for the hospitality trade? It is similar to the position earlier in the year during the first lockdown with narrow exceptions being made for weddings, civil partnerships, and funerals.

Businesses prohibited from operating

  • nightclubs
  • sexual entertainment venues
  • a concert hall
  • any other venue which: normally opens at night, 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 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
  • betting shop
  • holiday accommodation
  • restaurant
  • café
  • public house
  • bar

Weddings and civil partnerships

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

Further information can be found here

Funerals & wakes

  • Can take place
  • Maximum 20 people
  • 22:00
  • Alcohol permitted

For the avoidance of doubt, while pubs, bars, restaurants, and cafes must close, they can continue to offer takeaways and home deliveries. Alcohol can form part of an order subject to the appropriate licensing authorisations being in place.

All holiday accommodation provision must cease.  Accordingly hotels, self-catering accommodation and the like can only take bookings from those who need to stay for work purposes and some other limited exceptions e.g. someone unable to return home.  In such circumstances the accommodation provider may continue to serve food and non-alcoholic drinks to residents. Alcohol can only be served as part of a room service offer.

Other changes included East Lothian and Midlothian moving from level 3 to level 2. See our earlier note for details of what this means.

You can check what level your area is in via the Scottish Government’s postcode checker:

*The local authority areas affected are East Ayrshire, South Ayrshire, Stirling, East Renfrewshire, Renfrewshire, East Dunbartonshire, West Dunbartonshire, Glasgow City, South Lanarkshire, North Lanarkshire, and West Lothian 

Frequently asked questions

Can I open in accordance with the current restrictions tomorrow Wednesday 18 November?

Yes - you can open in accordance with the level 3 restrictions until 6pm on Friday 20 November.

I have bookings next week. What can I do?

Unfortunately you will need to contact the customer and either: (i) cancel the booking; or (ii) move the booking to a date after 11 December 2020.

Can I start taking bookings after 11 December?

You could but these bookings should be clearly caveated that they are subject to Scottish Government restrictions and may require to be cancelled or amended.

Can I hold an outdoor event while in level 4, for example, a drive in movie night or live music show?

Unfortunately, public gatherings of this nature are not permitted in level 4. You should make sure to discuss any plans for such events with your local authority or a specialist licensing solicitor especially if you have events already lined up.

I am a specialist craft beer shop. Can I trade under Level 4?

Yes, off sales premises are allowed to trade for takeaway in the usual way in line with the premises licence. This includes brewery shops as well as dedicated off-sales, and licensed convenience stores and supermarkets as well.

Our restaurant has been in Level 3 but running a takeaway and home delivery service. Does that need to stop in Level 4?

No, food and drink businesses are allowed to do food and drink (whether hot or cold) to go which includes drink, and includes alcohol so long as you are licensed for off-sales.

We have a wedding reception booked for next weekend.  Can we go ahead with the booking under level 4?

No, unfortunately wedding receptions are not allowed in level 4. Wedding ceremonies and civil partnerships can go ahead with a maximum number of 15 people in attendance.

My premises is near the local crematorium and we are regularly booked for wakes – will have have to turn down any enquiries between 2 November and 11 December?

No. Funerals and funeral wakes can go ahead, with a maximum number of 20 people attending.  Alcohol can be sold and a 22.00 curfew applies. 

I run a hotel in Level 4 and we have a number of bookings over the coming weeks. Our check out Q&A tells us our trade is normally split evenly between business and leisure. Do I have to close and cancel all bookings?

No. You will need to contact perspective guests and establish whether they are staying for leisure purposes. If they are they leisure bookings they must be cancelled.

Travel restrictions are coming into law on Friday so people living elsewhere in Scotland must not travel to level 4 areas, except for essential purposes.  Any business travel must therefore be essential and you should establish this is the case before honouring the booking,  Further guidance can be found here

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


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