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Inverness pub boss says Scottish Government's nightclub closure call is 'regrettable' but support must be goven where it is needed most

By Calum MacLeod

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Nightclubs in Scotland are expected to close from next Monday for at least three weeks.
Nightclubs in Scotland are expected to close from next Monday for at least three weeks.

An Inverness hospitality boss has called on the Scottish Government to ensure any support given to night spots forced to close is proportionate to their need.

The appeal came after Deputy First Minister John Swinney said a new law would require nightclubs to close from next Monday, December 37, rather than have them try to enforce one metre distancing between customers.

The closures are expected to last for at least three weeks, but Mr Swinney also pledged to offer support to affected businesses.

He also said that nightclubs could avoid total closure if they instead operated effectively as bars by introducing table service and physical distancing.

Deputy First Minister John Swinney.
Deputy First Minister John Swinney.

Mr Swinney commented: "We consider that closure in regulations, combined with financial support, may reduce losses and help these businesses weather what we hope will be a short period until they are able to operate normally again."

Gavin Stevenson, vice-chairman of industry body NTIA (Night Time Industries Association) Scotland and who with wife Anita, runs the Mor-Rioghain Group, owners of historic Inverness venue the Gellions and other venues in the Aberdeen area, welcomed the Scottish Government's promise of support.

"It is regrettable that Scottish Government have felt it necessary to close nightclubs for three weeks from December 27," he said.

"Our team have been in close dialogue with government officials in recent days, as the regulations already being implemented across the late night and hospitality sectors, such as one metre social distancing and all seated table service, would prevent most nightclubs from operating in a way that was commercially viable.

"The Scottish Government's announcement today provides additional support for those nightclub premises who are unable to repurpose and trade as a bar, while also allowing those who can repurpose to stay open. This represents a pragmatic compromise, and we are grateful to ministers and civil servants for taking the concerns of the sector into account and committing to additional funding for those businesses.

"We await further details of the additional support which will now be made available, and would urge Minister's to ensure that the new closure grants are proportionate to the scale of need so as to ensure the survival of hard pressed Scottish businesses and protect the jobs of staff who rely on them.”

Nightclubs in Scotland have only been able to resume operations since August, and have seen hopes of an end of year boost dashed by Public Health Scotland's call for Christmas parties to be put on hold while the Omicron varient still remains a major threat, and to limit contact with other households.

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