Pubs and restaurants in areas subject to Scotland’s lower three tiers will be able to serve alcohol indoors again from Monday next week, the first minister Nicola Sturgeon has announced.

Following a Scottish parliamentary debate on Sturgeon’s proposed five tier strategy yesterday (27 October), she confirmed that premises in level 2 of its system can serve alcohol with a meal until 8pm.

Whilst indoor areas in level 2 regions will have to close at 8pm, businesses will be permitted to serve alcohol outdoors until 10.30pm.

In level 3 areas, which is likely to be most of the country’s central belt, premises can reopen until 6pm, but cannot serve alcohol.

People will have to sit at a table to eat or drink in all areas at all levels, and takeaways will still be allowed.

UK Hospitality executive for Scotland Willie Macleod said that whilst the tiered system “doesn’t appear to do hospitality businesses any good,” the relaxed rules on meal service and alcohol comprise “small reasons to be positive.”

“But the continual restrictions, lack of time to adjust and uncertainty over support is a worry,” he said. “Again, we need to stress the importance of providing sufficient guidance and time to allow businesses to get to grips with new measures. Businesses need to plan, order stock, communicate details to staff and that all takes time that they are not being given.

“The sector has spent an estimated £80-90 million making premises safe and able to welcome customers. There are huge costs associated with closure, too. Businesses are spending around £10,000-15,000 per week just to stay closed. Financial support must be expansive and reflect these realities.”

Whilst it remains unclear whether additional funding will be passed from the Treasury to the Scottish Government to further support businesses, Sturgeon announced last week that premises required to close across any of the five levels will be eligible for grants either £2,000 or £3,000, depending on rateable value, for every four weeks that they have to remain closed.

Businesses able to open but unable to trade normally will be eligible for grants of £1,400 or £2,100 for every four weeks that restrictions are in place, also dependent on rateable value.

For those businesses that have been closed since the start of the pandemic such as nightclubs and softplay, Sturgeon announced yesterday that they would be eligible for one-off grants of up to £50,000, on top of grants of up to 75% on subsequent properties.

Responding to the move, Macleod said it was an “incredibly positive support for two elements of hospitality that had been neglected.”

“These businesses have been closed since the very start of the crisis and they have been looking ahead without much reassurance or idea of when they might start trading again,” he said. “This financial boost will be a lifeline, keeping businesses and jobs secure.”