Current restrictions on pub closing times will back hospitality staff into a corner during Euros, says SHG

Stephen Montgomery, spokesperson for the Scottish Hospitality Group
  • Hospitality bosses have called on the Scottish Government to urgently rethink current rules on closing times during Euros
  • Decision on last orders should lie with Local Authorities, says SHG

FORCING pubs to evict football fans mid-game during the Euros will put staff at risk of violence and waste valuable police time. That is the warning from the Scottish Hospitality Group (SHG), which says that with only a few days to go until the tournament kicks off, the current rules on closing times are unworkable.

Most of the central belt remains in level two, and with the risk that other local authorities will be moved up a level at very short notice, SHG is calling on the Scottish Government to introduce flexibility for closing times and allow Local Authorities to decided when last orders will be.

Stephen Montgomery, spokesperson for the Scottish Hospitality Group, commented: “We saw in the Europa League final that the game went on to extra time and then 22 penalties. If the Scottish Government doesn’t give some flexibility to the current rules, we could end up in a situation where people can watch the group stages, but when it comes to the knockout round, hospitality staff are going to be forced to ask fans to leave right in the middle of all that!”

The current restrictions mean that bars and restaurants in level two can stay open and serve alcohol until 22:30 and in level one they can stay open until 23:00.

Stephen added: “I’d like to see the officials and ministers who came up with these rules try to enforce them. Hospitality staff have taken enough punishment over the last year and they should not be forced to then ruin someone’s evening and potentially face a backlash. And you can easily see how trouble could start on the streets, meaning the police get called, which is a complete waste of their time.

“All that 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.

“Everyone deserves a bit of fun and relaxation after what we’ve been through, especially since it’s Scotland’s first major tournament in a generation. Much better to do that in a safe well-run pub with lots of public health measures, than have people in uncontrolled gatherings at home or the large, mass gatherings we saw across Glasgow last month.”

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