South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth has warned that the new lockdown measures which mean local pubs are unable to serve alcohol inside for the next couple of weeks are basically ‘closure by stealth’.

The MSP has been contacted by several pubs who have closed their doors completely for the duration of the new rules because either they do not have suitable outdoor facilities to continue serving or they have decided that due to the colder weather, it is not worth their while to operate on an outdoor basis during this time.

And while pubs and restaurants in the five central belt NHS areas affected by more stringent restrictions can claim grants of up to £3,000 from the Scottish Government for the period they must close, those in Dumfries and Galloway and the Borders who have made the difficult decision to shut, are still only able to claim up to £1,500.

Colin Smyth said: “The new rules which came into play on Friday are going to have a serious impact on pubs across the area.

“While the rules say that licensed premises can serve alcohol outside until 10 pm, for many that just isn’t a viable option. Either they do not have suitable outdoor areas for customers or because of the colder weather, they have made the understandable decision that it makes more financial sense to close completely.

“The new rules are basically closure by stealth and it is also doubly concerning because the pubs in Dumfries and Galloway and the Borders which decide to close are going to miss out on the £3,000 being offered to licensed premises in the central belt.

“I also know that many people are now wondering if the pub lockdown will continue past 25 October and this adds a new dimension of concern. The original furlough scheme ends on 31 October and while the newly announced scheme will pay two-thirds of workers’ wages, only hospitality firms who have been ordered to close their doors will be eligible.”

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