Nicola Sturgeon: Scotland's new tiered restrictions to be introduced on November 2

The planned new tiered system of lockdown restrictions will come into force in Scotland on Monday, November 2 if approved by MSPs at Holyrood next week, Nicola Sturgeon has said.

The First Minister said some areas may face stricter measures than those currently in force in the Central Belt, where licensed hospitality venues have been temporarily closed.

She told the Scottish Government’s coronavirus briefing that she will update the country about the temporary restrictions on hospitality businesses on Wednesday.

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That update will come after her Cabinet decide whether to extend the restrictions during a meeting tomorrow morning, although the First Minister gave a clear indication that was a highly likely “direction of travel” in answer to journalists’ questions.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon

Without an extension to existing restrictions, hospitality would be allowed to reopen in the five health boards currently facing closures - Greater Glasgow and Clyde, Ayrshire and Arran, Lothian, Lanarkshire and Forth Valley.

She told the briefing the new measures in the tiered framework, if approved by MSPs, will come into effect on November 2, coinciding with the UK Government’s new furlough scheme.

Ms Sturgeon said: “What that means is over the course of next week we will be assessing the up-to-date data and assessing whether all of the country would go into a certain level of the new framework or whether parts of the country would go into one level and other parts of the country into another.

“As part of that we will be considering, of course, whether there are parts of the country that need tougher restrictions than those in place in the Central Belt right now, or whether there are parts of the country that might be able to have less tough restrictions.

“We need to assess that on the basis of the up-to-date data.”

Ms Sturgeon is set to have a meeting with party leaders later today to discuss the planned tiered structure. She said she hopes a “reasonable degree of cross-party consensus” will be reached before the framework is debated.

The First Minister said she hoped MSPs would be able to back the tiered framework, with the decisions on which areas to implement them on left to the Scottish Government.

However, opposition parties will have the chance to propose amendments to a Scottish Government motion on the framework.

Ms Sturgeon said: “In publishing the outline framework later this week, I would also intend to then have a few days where there are comments made on that and we might tweak it ahead of the parliamentary debate to take account of any obvious points that people wanted to be rectified.”

Ms Sturgeon said flexibility will also be important in the framework, adding: “It’s important we get it as right as possible.

“It’s equally important, given what we’re dealing with, that we don’t become an absolute prisoner of any framework because we need to retain a degree of flexibility.”

“But it is also important to recognise that applying that framework is where the really difficult decisions will lie and ultimately government has to take those decisions and the buck has to stop with us for those decisions.”

Following the briefing, the Scottish government faced renewed calls from the hospitality sector to extend the business support on offer for areas forced to close due to new restrictions.

The Scottish Hospitality Group which represents several of Scotland's biggest pub and restaurant chains such as G1 Group and Signature Pubs labelled the current support a “postcode lottery”

Highlighting Manchester’s unsuccessful push for more funding from the UK government, spokesperson for the SHG Stephen Montgomery said the sector “must be given adequate support” if restrictions are extended.

He said: “Not only is information conflicting, much of the support is inaccessible. It is absurd to believe that specific sectoral support should be based on a one size fits all approach.

“Some operators outside the central belt have been forced to close over the sixteen day period as they cannot trade viably under the current restrictions, therefore they are not eligible for full Scottish Government support or access to the new furlough scheme.

“We still have no detail on how the ‘furlough top up’ will be calculated, no clear guidance on what happens to our staff from the start of November when the current furlough ends, or how the new job support scheme will be administered.

“Despite constantly asking for more engagement, we are still only hearing about restrictions on the day which does not allow businesses to prepare appropriately. A stop start approach with no notice is unfairly penalising the industry and costing businesses on average £4,000 a week on top of other losses.”

Hospitality businesses are at the forefront of the economic pain caused by Covid-19 due to enforced closures for several months during the initial lockdown and again under the current temporary restrictions.

Nic Wood, owner of the Signature Pub Group, who runs 21 bars and restaurants across Scotland, said: “It is not unreasonable to ask government to work with us on finding a solution to safeguard an industry that is the backbone of Scotland’s economic prosperity.

"Currently we do not feel they are listening to businesses and as a result have a lot to learn as to how our sector works. Our business alone has been forced to reduce headcount by 30 per cent, and until they start to engage with us, thousands of Scottish jobs hang in the balance.

“Scotland's bars and restaurants have demonstrated again and again that they are willing to work with government and are doing absolutely everything asked of them to help combat the spread of coronavirus.

"Responsibly run bars and restaurants should be regarded as a vital part of the solution, as recent evidence shows that people will socialise at home or other venues that have no social distancing.”

Additional reporting by PA.

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