RESTAURANTS in Scotland’s largest city are defying a 16-day “circuit breaker” ban affecting licensed venues in the Central Belt and face forced closure, days before the restrictions are due to end.

Glasgow City Council said a final warning had been issued to a number of businesses which do not qualify for an exemption that has allowed licensed cafes to continue trading. A spokeswoman said the council is now preparing to enforce closures.

It comes as the First Minister gave strong indications that the trade ban affecting hospitality in Glasgow, Lanarkshire, Forth Valley, Lothian and Ayrshire and Arran will be extended.

The region had tougher curbs on hospitality and social mixing introduced at 6pm on October 9, a measure that was supposed to expire at 6am on October 26, while those in the rest of Scotland outside can only serve alcohol outdoors.

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However, at the daily Covid briefing, Ms Sturgeon said her cabinet would discuss today whether to roll over the Central Belt rules for another week until a new tiered system starts Scotland-wide.

She said the final decision had yet to be taken but acknowledged it would “make sense” from a public health perspective to extend the current rules in the Central Belt.

The Scottish Government announced a £40 million package to help the ailing hospitality industry, which was described as “totally derisory” by industry leaders, while Paul Waterson of the Scottish Licensed Trade Association warned that two-thirds of premises could shut, affecting 25,000 jobs.

Glasgow City Council said environmental health and trading standards officers had visited more than 1,200 premises since additional measures were introduced on October 9 and said a number of restaurants had continued to trade illegally.

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Both South and North Lanarkshire councils said they were not in the position of having to consider enforcement action after some businesses had been issued with a warning.

A spokeswoman for Glasgow City Council said:  “Our environmental health and trading standards officers have visited more than 1,200 premises since additional measures were introduced.  

“Overall, compliance is good but there are a number of establishments which, in our view, do not qualify for the licensed café exemption. 

“Final warnings have now been issued and appropriate enforcement action will be taken if, despite these warnings, businesses continue to trade as they are at present.”

A Scottish Government spokeswoman added: “Police Scotland is working in partnership with local authority environmental health officers to support hospitality businesses to understand of further action including possible prosecution in court.” 

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Meanwhile, The Scottish Hospitality Group (SHG), which represents bar and restaurant operators, described a £40m funding package as “nowhere near enough” and has called for a more strategic “long-term” approach from the government to safeguard jobs and businesses in the licensed trade.

Stephen Montgomery, spokesman for the SHG said next week will be pivotable for many businesses on redundancy decisions if further restrictions tighten.