Nicola Sturgeon said financial constraints on the Scottish Government’s budget is stopping her from potentially closing pubs due to the impact on jobs and businesses such a decision would have.
The First Minister, speaking at her daily briefing, said it was ‘not unreasonable’ to ask why household visits are banned while people are able to drink in pubs and eat in restaurants, albeit only until 10pm.
Reiterating her call for more financial flexibility to battle Covid-19, Ms Sturgeon said the lack of financial support available to businesses who would be forced to close stopped her from making that choice.
She said: “Many people ask me why we don’t just close pubs completely right now and actually that is not an unreasonable question.
"If the Scottish Government had the power to borrow money or extend the furlough job retention scheme so we could mitigate the impact on jobs, it is very possible, perhaps even likely, that we would have reached a different decision yesterday on hospitality
“I look at the data just now and I think a curfew on pubs is a positive thing to do to try and reduce the transmission in pubs.
"If I had the ability to bring more financial firepower to mitigate the jobs and economic impact, I probably would have gone further on pubs.
"But I don’t think just taking action on pubs whether it is a curfew or more is enough which is why we’re talking about household interaction which is why I’ve taken the tough decision on household visits and not being in each other’s homes.
"I can see the public health argument for that [closing pubs] and Jason probably would give you the public health argument for that.
"If I do that, I immediately put a lot of jobs on the line. When we closed pubs in Aberdeen, pubs were able to go back into the furlough scheme but time is running out for them to do that.
"We gave the million pounds support funds for businesses for Aberdeen but trying to do that within our financial constraints across the whole country, particularly with furlough being taken away, becomes just impossible to do.”