As pubs and restaurants across the Central Belt of Scotland were forced to close their doors this evening, bartenders all over the country took part in an unusual protest.

With the shutters coming down for at least a period of 16 days, many hospitality workers across Scotland protested against their venues closing by dumping leftover ice at focal points of their cities.

A letter posted to the Glasgow Bartenders Club said venues in Edinburgh were leaving the remaining contents of their ice machines outside the Scottish Parliament after closing at 6pm on Friday.

New restrictions brought in to curb the spread of coronavirus mean pubs and other licenced premises in five areas across central Scotland – including Glasgow and Edinburgh – will remain closed for 16 days.

Dozens of employees from bars and pubs in Glasgow took their ice to outside the City Chambers at George Square although the letter made clear it was not a local council issue.

People wearing masks gathered and cheered as more ice was poured on the pile – with a truckload also arriving but unable to drive down along the road outside the City Chambers.

Those who had brought buckets from their bars gathered it up, with others using carrier bags and jackets, to add to the pile until the vehicle eventually dumped the ice where it had parked.

Caitlin Lee, a worker at Blythswood Square Hotel in the city who has just survived redundancy, was among the crowd on Friday night supporting her industry colleagues.

Although the hotel itself is exempt from the closure they are also unable to sell alcohol which has brought uncertainty to their business over the next few weeks.

She said: “Our occupancy within the hotel is obviously expecting to drop because people can’t go out.

“We’re now in a position where we don’t know what’s going to happen – hospitality and everyone in hospitality has already went through the first wave of not being able to work and now we’re coming into a second wave of it.

“Are we going to be able to work into Christmas and New Year?

“The £40 million pounds (announced by the government) is going to employers but that’s not people’s wages, in hospitality you’re on zero hours contracts or minimum wages. What support are you going to receive?

“There needs to be more clarity in the industry and within the government about what they’re actually going to do for one of the biggest employers in the country.”

Chloe Fraser, who previously worked in the hospitality industry for 10 years, was also out supporting the cause and helping people with carrier bags to add to the ice pile.

She said: “It’s house parties that are causing the spread, it’s not hospitality. It’s clearly seen that people are not obeying the law or caring about the bigger picture.

“Hospitality is having to spend a lot of money putting the screens up, having to do all of these extra things which they’ve been abiding by in Glasgow.

“What’s happening after hours is the issue… these independent companies can’t afford these losses. That’s why we’re seeing this.”

A similar event was also planned for Union Street in Aberdeen.