Glasgow Licensing Board has written to the Scottish Government with recommendations in support of both the city’s hospitality sector and the public health effort to tackle Covid-19.
In a letter to the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, the cross party licensing board expressed its recognition of the immense challenges facing the government during the on-going coronavirus pandemic.
Based on feedback from the licensed on-sales trade as well as the deliberations of the board, the letter also set out a series of possible measures intended to strike the appropriate balance between protecting public health and preserving the viability of the city’s licensed trade.
In general the board believes that the liquor licensing system acts as an additional, powerful lever to ensure that premises comply with the controls created by the coronavirus regulations. Protecting the licensed trade will therefore support the fight against Covid-19 in the longer term.
The recommendations from the board include:
- a reconsideration of the definition of ‘café’ within the current regulations.
- allowing all licensed premises that serve food to remain open, even if alcohol can’t be served.
- introducing phased closing times for different types of licensed premises should a requirement for a curfew remain in place once the current restrictions are lifted. This includes a proposal for a ‘last entry/booking time’ system to help manage dispersal from premises.
The letter also expresses concerns about:
- the use of unlicensed restaurants, which are allowed under the coronavirus regulations but are beyond the scope of the licensing system,
- increased footfall in the premises that remain open during the current restrictions,
- a growth of unregulated drinking in homes amid the closure of pubs, clubs and restaurants, where the consumption of alcohol is managed and Covid-19 controls are in place.
- customers leaving premises at the same time as a consequence of the 10pm curfew and the impact this had on other services such as taxis, buses and food outlets.
In the letter, the Chair of Glasgow Licensing Board, Councillor Matt Kerr, said: “The Licensing Board is keen to ensure the city’s on-sales licensed trade survives these incredibly difficult times, while ensuring public health is not in any way compromised.
“If any of the recommendations were taken forward by your government, all licensed premises would be required to comply with Covid-19 legislation and guidance. Any premises acting in contravention of these would be brought to the Licensing Board’s attention and appropriate action taken.”