SCOTTISH hospitality representatives have made a new call to immediately lift Covid restrictions for pubs while accusing ministers of "double standards" in allowing official mass gatherings for the Euro 2020 tournament.

Hospitality groups say it is not too late for ministers to take action as Scotland faces the Czech Republic in their opening fixture of the UEFA Euro 2020 tournament tomorrow (Monday) saying there is hypocrisy in allowing thousands into official fan zones.

On Tuesday, Scotland’s health secretary, Humza Yousaf, told MSPs that the designated fan zone on Glasgow Green, where up to 6,000 Euro 2020 supporters can gather daily over the entire 31 days of the tournament, would go ahead, despite an increase in cases of 50% across Scotland.

But pubs and clubs have strongly criticised the move to effectively give official sanction for the mass gathering Euros fan zones, which will provide alcohol and live bands, aving poured scorn on gatherings in George Square.

Groups have warned that the boost to pubs from the Euros will be severely hampered by ongoing restrictions, including one metre plus social distancing, no standing and the rule of six.

Forty-seven police officers were injured as Rangers fans attacked each other and threw missiles at officers as they gathered in the centre of Glasgow to celebrate the Ibrox club winning their first Scottish Premiership championship since 2011.


There have now been 39 arrests made pertaining to the George Square disorder - in addition to one at Ibrox.

Glasgow, only moved to level two of the Covid restrictions last weekend after enduring some of the strictest restrictions in the country for almost nine months.

But the trade association warned that the boost to pubs from the match will be severely hampered by ongoing restrictions, including one metre plus social distancing, no standing and the rule of six.

Most of the central belt is subject to a 10.30pm curfew under level two rules while areas in level one can open half an hour longer and close at 11pm.

Mr Yousaf told MSPs that while he understood concerns about the events, where ticket-holders are encouraged to take a lateral flow test in advance but it is not mandatory, this would be an “outdoor, highly regulated space”.

But the Scottish hospitality groups have said this ignores how pubs themselves are highly regulated and with the easing of restrictions could have handled fans - and prevented official mass gatherings.

Euro 2020 kicked off on Friday with Glasgow one of 11 host cities.

Scotland's hospitality sector has warned that many will not survive if an increase in infection rates resulting from Euro 2020 events means the city is forced back into lockdown.

Colin Wilkinson, managing director of the Scottish Licensed Trade Association said: "We would like to see the restrictions lifted as soon as possible because of the negative effect it is having on pubs' viability. The Euros would have given the sector a chance to recoup the losses they have incurred in the last months.

"We have put in place measures to provide as safe an environment as possible. People enjoy going to the pub, especially for this spectacle, which is a first time in a generation. But because of the restrictions, it is deeply affecting the viability of licensed premises and bars.

HeraldScotland: "Right now bars are operating at as lows as 25-30% of their capacity. "When you consider that licensed premises are closed all this time, and yet we are told because of Covid we have to have these restrictions in place which restricts our numbers and yet it is okay to have 3000 people, twice a day for a mass gathering in fanzones. It doesn't appear to be a fair system.

"They provide drink, the only thing they aren't supplying is spirits. "Because it is an event, they have different guidance, but within the area, there will be the same social distancing measures as pubs and bars. "But how do you control 3000 people in one area twice a day. It is not just in the fan zone, it is going to and from the fan zone there has to be concern.

"It is far easier to control the kind of numbers that many pubs will be able to take. Trying to control 3000 people twice a day, that is a different kettle of fish.

"We have seen what happened when you try to control mass gatherings in George Square."

A total of 3,000 people will be able to attend an afternoon session and another 3,000 an evening session in the "largely seated" venue which will be subject to social distancing rules.

About 12,000 fans will also gather in Hampden Park for four matches this month, taking the national stadium to 25% capacity.

They include the Scotland v Czech Republic game tomorrow and the Scotland v Croatia match on June 22. Glasgow will also play host to a last 16 match as well as the Czech Republic v Croatia group stage game.

The Scottish Beer & Pub Association (SBPA) is saying to ministers that it is not too late to have a rethink on the eve of Scotland's first Euros match.

They say the ongoing Covid restrictions which will "severely reduce" pub earnings as the Euros come to Scotland.

The SBPA has predicted that Scotland fans will buy 360,000 pints when Scotland play the Czech Republic tomorrow.

But the trade association says the restrictions will greatly reduce the experience of watching Euro 2020 at the pub and will limit the number of customers they can have viewing the match.

Because of this, it estimates that beer sales during the match will be almost 90,000 pints less than if the game was being showed without restrictions.

This, the trade association says, will result in a loss of revenue to pubs in Scotland of nearly £350,000 during the match alone, which would have been vital to the sectors recovery.

Overall, the trade association estimates 800,000 pints will be sold on Monday in Scotland, with 360,000 of those being sold during the game itself.

A survey of 1,000 pub goers by the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) and KAM Media found that 85% of pub-going football fans believe the current restrictions will negatively impact their experience of watching UEFA Euro 2020 at the pub this summer.

Half said they would be more likely to watch UEFA Euro 2020 at their pub if all restrictions on pubs are lifted, despite 91% of football fans saying they missed watching matches at the pub during lockdown.* As more and more individuals receive their vaccination, and to give the nation a return to normality and enjoy such a national occasion as UEFA Euro 2020 properly, the SBPA is urging the Scottish Government to remove all restrictions for pubs.

Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the Scottish Beer & Pub Association, said: “Nothing beats watching the football at the pub.

“Unfortunately, the current restrictions on pubs do mean the experience isn’t going to be the same. No standing and limits on group sizes, as well as social distancing, are going to severely reduce the number of people who can enjoy the game in the pub.

"Given our pubs have been closed or faced restrictions for more than a year, every little helps and is critical to our recovery and survival.

“More and more people are getting the vaccine each day. It’s time for the restrictions on our freedoms to be replaced by the protection of the vaccination and for businesses and life to get back to normal. The Countdown to Freedom is on.”

Stephen Montgomery, the hotelier who is spokesman for the Scottish Hospitality Group added:“If it’s safe for the Eurozone to go ahead then it’s safe for people to gather in well-run and responsible hospitality venues where we have all sorts of public health measures.

“Everyone deserves a bit of fun and relaxation this summer, especially since it’s Scotland’s first major tournament in a generation.

“All we’re asking for is a bit of fairness and consistency after all we’ve been through and for decision-makers to take the time to speak with us and understand the harsh reality of how their rules affect us on the ground.

“What needs to happen is to tweak the rules so that people can finish their drink and watch the end of the game. It’s as simple as that – and it should be up to local authorities to decide what time pubs and restaurants in their patch close.”