After a surge in COVID-19 cases over two weeks, Scotland First Minister Nicola Sturgeon Wednesday announced new restrictions for the country, including the closing of all pubs in Glasgow and Edinburgh and a 16-day nationwide ban on indoor alcohol consumption beginning Friday.
The number of COVID-19 cases in Scotland has been accelerating since mid-September, with 1,054 new cases reported by the government on Wednesday, driven by infections in the “central belt” — or central Scotland — which includes the two major cities.
Sturgeon announced the new restrictions before the Scottish parliament. Beginning Friday, she said, areas where all licensed premises will have to close completely — with the exception of hotels for residents — are Greater Glasgow and Clyde, Lanarkshire, Ayrshire and Arran, Lothian and Forth Valley.
She said pubs, restaurants and cafes outside the central belt will be able to continue to serve alcohol outdoors until the existing curfew time of 10 p.m. Those establishments can serve food and non-alcoholic drinks indoors but must close by 6 p.m. for the 16-day period.
Sturgeon said the hospitality industry isn’t being closed completely because the government understands the benefit of some socializing in terms of reducing loneliness and isolation, “of giving people, particularly those who live alone, somewhere they can meet a friend for a coffee and a chat."
More restrictions will be imposed in those regions for two weeks beginning Oct. 10, including on indoor group exercise for over people 18 and over.
Sturgeon also said people should avoid public transport in the central belt, except where necessary.
Pubs and restaurants were already required to close at 10 p.m. in Scotland, in line with England and Wales. The country also has a ban on people visiting other homes.