NICOLA Sturgeon has warned she may ban pub crawls to curb the spread of the coronavirus because of the high risk associated with the hospitality sector.

The First Minister advised people to “minimise the number of premises” they visited after revealing 198 of the 328 recent cases in Grampian were linked to Aberdeen's pubs.

She said it remained advisory now, but if the problem persisted, she would look at legislation to clamp down on pub crawls.

She said venues must also turn off all background music and mute TVs to avoid people raising their voices, which increases the risk of spreading the virus.

"Hospitality is a big transmission risk," she said.

Ms Sturgeon told the daily briefing there had been 65 new cases of Covid confirmed overnight, of which 28 were in Grampian, nine on Glasgow and 12 in Lanarkshire.

She said the Glasgow and Lanarkshire cases appeared to be related to a cluster in the north east of the city.

There were again no deaths from confirmed cases of Covid in the last 24 hours.

She said: “We’re asking customers to minimise the number of premises you visit in any one day.

“The more settings you go to, the more likely you might be to get Covid, and the more likely you might be to spread it.

“Visiting lots of pubs in a single day or evening massively increases as well the workload potentially of Test and Protect.

“So please think about that - it makes a really big difference if you stay in one pub or whether you go to several.”

She said that if people were going out to pubs or restaurants a lot, or going to other people’s houses regularly, they should reflect on their actions.

“Nobody’s social life should feel exactly as it was before Covid struck,” she said.

Asked if pub crawls were now banned by law or merely advised against, the First Minister said: “It is not the case that pub crawls are banned in law right now. This is advice and guidance we are giving to customers.

“We are still considering whether it would be practical to put more of a legal framework around the issue of pub crawls to minimise the places go, but that is not an easy thing to do.

“If you apply commonsense to that, that is not a straightforward thing to do.

“We’re trying to strike the best balance between guidance - where possible I want people to do the right things for the right reasons - but back up that when we need to with legal force and potentially as a last resort enforcement.

“We will continue to try to keep under review whether we’ve got that balance right or wrong.” 

National Clinical Director Jason Leitch said people should remember to socially distance when in pubs and restaurants. 

He said: “You must stay in your household group when you are out and you must keep at least one metre away from anyone, even people you have gone with, within your maximum three household group.

"If three of you go out for dinner you have to stay 1m apart if you do not live in the same household."

The Scottish Government also published new statutes and guidance for the hospitality sector about collecting and storing customer contact details.

It said all pubs, restaurants, cafes and hotels must record the name, phone number, and arrival date and time of at leats one customer family group and store it for 21 days.

The guidance also said venues should try to collect departure times where possible, however this was not part of the new legislation.

It warned venues that if they stored the data electronically they would need to register as data controllers with the UK Information Commissioner’s Office, at a cost of up to £60.

Ms Sturgeon said: “While many hospitality businesses have acted responsibly by adhering to the voluntary approach of collecting customer details, unfortunately too many others have not, and so – given the established high risk of virus transmission within hospitality settings – we have decided to make this mandatory.

“Strengthening this requirement to collect and share the data by moving it from guidance into regulations ensures that in the event of an outbreak, through the Test and Protect process, it will be possible to get in touch with anyone identified as a close contact who was present at the same time as an individual who has tested positive for Covid-19.

“This will help us break chains of transmission while continuing to allow us to socialise and support our local businesses.

“It is worth stressing that for those hospitality venues which are already complying with guidance, they will see minimal change to their procedures and operations.”

Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the Scottish Beer and Pub Association, added: “The majority of Scotland’s pubs and bars had already gone above and beyond in putting measures in place to keep customers safe during this time.

“These changes today will help ensure those premises which have fallen short no longer do so, and we welcome that clarity.

“We’re all in this together and the stronger we are now, the sooner we will be able to see these restrictions disappear.”