What are Scotland’s tighter COVID restrictions for hospitality?

Scotland Restrictions Update


UPDATED – 23rd December

Nicola Sturgeon announced today, Thursday 23rd December, that in addition to the below restrictions, nightclubs will be forced to close from 27th December for at least three weeks. This news comes as a devasting blow to beleaguered nightclubs already suffering with reduced visitor numbers in the wake of the Omicron wave.

The UK Government has provided the Scottish parliament with £440m of funding to support the industry and it’s now imperative that the Scottish government expedite these funds to help support our industry.


UPDATED – 21st December

Nicola Sturgeon announced today, Tuesday 21st December, Scotland will not have large scale Hogmanay celebrations.

New restrictions from Boxing Day have been announced will come into effect. These include:

  • Crowds at outdoor public events in Scotland will be capped at 500
  • Indoor public events are to be limited to 100 standing or 200 seated
  • Indoor hospitality venues will also return to table service from 27 December for up to three weeks
  • No more than three households will be able to sit in one group

Speaking to the house, the First Minister said:

“From 27 December, again for a three-week period – we intend to introduce some further protections in hospitality settings and other indoor public places to reduce transmission risk in what are, through no fault of those who run such venues, higher-risk environments.”

“I can confirm that a requirement for table service-only will be reintroduced for venues serving alcohol for consumption on the premises.”

“And we will also ask indoor hospitality and leisure venues to ensure one-metre distance, not within, but between groups of people who are attending together.”

This comes after the UK government announced a £1 billion fund for hospitality businesses today. On Monday, the new COVID case toll hit an all-time high as the Omicron wave continues it’s charge across the country.


Speaking in Scottish parliament last week, Nicola Sturgeon told the house that she is calling on hospitality to step up their COVID protections and procedures.

NDML has taken the time to read through the First Minister’s statement and relay the segments that directly affect hospitality and your venue.

How does Scotland’s COVID rules affect my business?

Nicola Sturgeon’s address was, in the most part, directed to the public, asking them to limit their time at indoor public venues socialising with members of different households. The repercussions of this will fall on hospitality venues, however it does not call for closers or a cancel(ed) Christmas.

“Firstly, we want to keep businesses open but to help achieve this we are asking them to step up the protections in place in their premises.”

“We intend to amend regulations to put a legal requirement on those running businesses or providing services to take measures which are reasonably practicable to minimise the risk of transmission.”

“For hospitality, it will mean, for example, measures to avoid crowding at bars and between tables, and a reminder of the requirement to collect contact details of customers to help with contact tracing.”

The new social mixing guidelines come as Scotland faces a “likely tsunami” of infections. The changes include Scottish bars and restaurants stepping up COVID tracing measures and reminding customers on the rules. Procedures will be unique to each venue, however customers universally should be asked to not crowd entrances or bar areas. Scots will not be allowed to meet up with more than three households at a time. These measures are now a lawful requirement, meaning venues and operators can be prosecuted if found grossly abusing freedoms.

“For employers more generally, the guidance will make clear that enabling staff who were working from home at the start of the pandemic to do so again is now a legal duty.”

This comes after reports of mass staff absences and major shortages over Christmas. Sturgeon reiterates how essential it is to keep businesses open. UK Hospitality has forecast that takings will be down by as much as 40% for December, usually the most lucrative month for venues.

So will there be any financial support for Scottish hospitality?

Sturgeon said: “Because the UK government is at this stage not proposing any further protections – a position I do not agree with – there is no funding generated to compensate businesses for any protections we think are necessary and wish to put in place.”

“Businesses who previously received support through the Strategic Framework Business Fund will be contacted directly.”

A fund of £100m was announced, coming from Scotland’s own coffers through reprioritisation of the wealth. However it is yet to be seen where this will be utilised.

In any case, these announcements have been seen as a “terrible blow for licensees, brewers and consumers” a nightlife economy director told the Scottish press. “Any return to table service only risks destroying all the progress that has been made to rebuild Scotland’s once-thriving beer and pubs sector. A £100m fund to help hospitality businesses is welcome but won’t be sufficient to compensate businesses.”

NDML will support your Nightlife business

The true ramifications of these tightening of restrictions are yet to be seen. Many were worried Scotland would simply be called to close, and fortunately that does not look to be happening this year. However, as trade remains well below pre-pandemic levels, the Scottish nightlife and hospitality industry is at risk.

At NDML, it is our mission to protect and safeguard businesses from risks. Our excellent risk management services are available, as well as a range of comprehensive covers which will be tailored to your business.

Contact us today to learn more about our services and why effective insurance is vital now more than ever.

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