PUBS, bars and restaurants have warned Scotland’s new coronavirus rules will put thousands of jobs at risk and devastate businesses, with fears many will not survive beyond Christmas.

The Scottish Beer and Pub Association said firms were already struggling to break even and the latest restrictions will push some to breaking point.

Meanwhile, representatives of the country’s late-night bars and venues said they had been “abandoned” and warned more people will now be driven behind closed doors for “unregulated illegal gatherings and crowded house parties”.

The Scottish Chambers of Commerce said “every restriction imposed is a risk to jobs”.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said pubs, bars and restaurants will need to shut at 10pm from Friday.

Her announcement came after Prime Minister Boris Johnson unveiled a similar hospitality curfew in England.

Ms Sturgeon said extra resources will be provided to environmental health teams to increase inspections and enforcement.

And she said further restrictions, including possible closure of venues, will be be "unavoidable" if coronavirus rules are not complied with.

Michael Grieve, chair of the Night-Time Industries Association Scotland, said it was “another devastating blow for our beleaguered sector”.

He said: “We absolutely respect the need for public health to be the number one priority, but these measures simply don’t make sense.

“The evidence is clear. The main transmission mechanism is in the home – not in venues.

“Public Health England figures show that only 5 per cent of infections in early September occurred in food outlets, including restaurants and pubs.

“With more onerous restrictions already in place in Scotland’s pubs and restaurants, it’s difficult to understand why this sector is attracting so much of the focus.

“As the only country in the world with a complete ban on music, Scotland’s worldwide reputation for atmosphere in our bars, restaurants and venues is already threatened with extinction.”

He added: “We predict that these latest restrictions will drive more people behind closed doors for unregulated illegal gatherings and crowded house parties. Meanwhile our sector is left abandoned.

“At the very least, the Scottish Government should be engaging with us to examine every possible avenue for additional financial support for our businesses, and to ramp up the pressure on the UK Government to extend the Job Retention Scheme for our sector.”

A spokesman for the Scottish Beer and Pub Association said the industry takes its responsibility in helping to curb the spread of Covid-19 seriously.

He said: “Make no mistake, a 10pm curfew will devastate our sector during an already challenging environment for pubs.

“Pubs were struggling to break even before today and these latest restrictions will push some to breaking point.

“Restricting key trading hours on top of fragile consumer confidence and the reduced capacity pubs already face in addition to the current ban on sound from televisions and background music they are already contending with will put hundreds more pubs and thousands more jobs at risk.

“A curfew is particularly heart-breaking for the trade as there seems to be little available evidence that pubs, with their strict adherence to government guidelines, are unsafe, so we are unsure that this blanket measure will make a major difference.

“Every hour of trading is crucial to the survival of pubs – for many this curfew will render their businesses unviable.

“The trade urgently needs a comprehensive support package to ensure that more pubs don’t close their doors for good because of this curfew.”

Stephen Montgomery, spokesman for the Scottish Hospitality Group, said businesses are now “staring into an abyss”.

He said: “Many of us are already trading at a loss and some members estimate that they will see their turnover plummet by more than 25% with the new measures.

“There is a real concern that the hospitality industry is being singled out for restrictions with very little evidence to support a link to coronavirus transmission.”

He added: “Without meaningful financial support from the government many businesses will not survive further than Christmas.”

Marc Crothall, chief executive of the Scottish Tourism Alliance, said the new measures will “serve as a significant blow to many hundreds of businesses across Scotland who have worked hard to ensure compliance with government guidance to protect their staff, customers and to offer confidence that all possible measures have been taken to protect these groups”.

He said: “Sadly, this is likely to be the last straw for many businesses which were only just managing to break even; the impact that this new rule will have on restaurants in particular in terms of restricting a second seating in the evening will result in a substantial loss of revenue, as indeed it will in other areas of hospitality.”

He called for a tailored furlough package, a permanent reduction in VAT to 5% beyond 2021 and a business rates holiday until the end of March 2022 for all tourism businesses.

Dr Liz Cameron, chief executive of the Scottish Chambers of Commerce, said businesses have already been “following and even exceeding the rules put in place to protect our employees and customers”.

She said: “We have created Covid-secure environments to protect jobs and livelihoods. This will continue to be our priority.

“Health and safety is absolutely critical. As employers, we take our responsibilities very seriously."

She added: “Every restriction imposed is a risk to jobs.

"We need to see an immediate joint plan between the Scottish and UK Government with a package of support measures ready to go which gives businesses the confidence to plan, prepare and trade."