PUBS and bars which want to cut social distancing rules in half will have to ensure premises are not too loud so that people have to shout, Scottish Government guidelines have indicated.

Nicola Sturgeon indicated that pubs, restaurants and shops could reduce the two-metre social distancing rule to one metre if “mitigation” measures are put in place when they re-open on July 15.

Scottish Government officials have held talks with industry representatives and trade unions – and have now set out a list of measures that will have to be followed by businesses in the tourism in hospitality sector in order for the two-metre rule to be cut in half.

Staff will be required to wear face coverings, along with improved ventilation and clear signage for customers that they are entering a one metre zone.

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One-metre pubs will include a ban on standing at the bar area – with all customers to be seated, with official guidance stressing that “physical distancing is easier to achieve at pre-arranged seating areas”.

Businesses will need to review seating layouts to ensure the one-metre rule is kept by people sitting back to back.

The guidance acknowledges that “face coverings for customers is not practical in an eating and drinking environment”, but highlights that “they should – where necessary – be made available for staff to afford them and others added protection, such as in front-of-house roles”.

Businesses cutting the social distancing rule will require “adequate and good quality ventilation” and should consult guidance from HSE as to whether “additional measures” are needed.

Pubs and restaurants should ensure that people do not need to shout – as this poses a risk of transmitting the virus.

The Scottish Government guidance says: “Areas where people have to raise their voice above normal levels to speak and be heard can contribute to the spread of coronavirus.

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“The level and volume of music and other background noise, such as live sports on TV or around games tables, is a key consideration and steps should be taken to ensure volume levels do not present a risk to staff and customers.”

Businesses will have to make it clear to customers that they are entering a one-metre zone with “clear signage displayed at entry points”.

The guidance adds: “It is acknowledged that not all of these measures will be relevant in every setting but that it is for individual businesses to consider where they do relate to their specific business and reflect this in their risk assessments.

“These are in addition to existing measures required for operating at two metres, which still applies to all other areas covered by the sector guidance where two metres remains the default.”