Pubs across Tayside and Fife are preparing to reopen their beer gardens from next week with one landlord saying he could be serving “within the hour” of getting the go ahead from the Scottish Government.
Nicola Sturgeon is expected to announce phase two of lockdown easing next Thursday if the R-number stays below one. The move could allow pubs with outside areas to start trading again.
However even if restrictions are lifted pubs will still face a number of challenges, with larger breweries unable to make deliveries straight away.
There are also calls for the government to ease the two metre distancing rule which could block some establishments from reopening.
Despite the obstacles, Graham Bucknall, owner of The Ship Inn at Elie in Fife, said he would be able to start serving customers almost instantly.
He told The Courier: “If the First Minister stands up on Thursday and makes the announcement we’ll be ready to go – hopefully within the hour.
“It’s been a really tough three months. We’ve been in survival mode and now we need to move to recovery mode, and the first stage of that will be getting the beer gardens open.”
He added: “One of the challenges is if we’re going to be able to get beer.
“We’ve been talking to some of the smaller breweries like St Andrews Brewing Co and they’re going to be able to get some beers and some lagers. It’s a really good opportunity for the smaller breweries.”
Scott Findlay, who runs The Cherrybank Inn in Perth, is transforming his car park into an outdoor seating area.
However due to the lack of deliveries it will be the last week in June before his pub is able to start serving again.
Scott said: “All of the feedback we’re getting from the brewers is that they can’t make any deliveries until the week beginning the 22nd – and I don’t have any in date beer in my cellar.
“What we’re doing is a pretty big setup. We’ve got an outside licence for our balcony and an occasional licence for the car park.
“We’ve been working with the police and with the licensing board and I think we’ve covered everything.
“We had a massive risk assessment done and if anyone is looking to reopen I think they’ll need to do that.”
The Scottish Beer and Pub Association (SPBA) has called on the government to reduce the two metre distancing rule, fearing some pubs will be unable to comply.
Emma McClarkin CEO of SPBA, said: “The reopening of beer gardens will be welcome for those pubs that are able to do it.
“However, the reality for many Scottish pubs will mean that they cannot open due to lack of outdoor space and even those that do, will find it difficult to operate with a two-metre social distance.
“The Scottish Government must do everything it can to help get all pubs re-open and trading as soon as possible.
“This is why we are urging the government to explore the WHO endorsed one-metre being used in countries like France and New Zealand.”
Perth and Kinross Council said they were “looking at ways to speed up the process” for businesses who were applying for outdoor licenses.
In England, Boris Johnson was urged to open pub beer gardens by one of his own MPs, but he said the UK government was sticking to its plan to re-open outdoor hospitality no earlier than July 4.
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