Nicola Sturgeon has hit out at “myths” of new physical distancing rules in pubs and restaurants, saying the one-metre rule will remain in place.
The First Minister said the physical distancing rules had not changed from last year, and claims otherwise were “scaremongering”.
It comes after the Scottish Hospitality Group said an official document had raised fears that the rules had been extended.
On Tuesday, the First Minister confirmed a number of lockdown measures would ease from Monday April 26.
These include indoor opening of hospitality up to 8pm, though alcohol sales will remain outdoors-only until May 17.
Speaking at the Scottish Government’s coronavirus briefing, Ms Sturgeon said she expected households to stay at least one metre apart while in pubs or restaurants.
She said the rule had not changed from last year, agreeing with comments from the Scottish Beer and Pub Association that claims otherwise were “scaremongering”.
The First Minister said: “I would actually say that we should not have myths about the rules circulating because it doesn’t help anybody, least of all those in our hospitality sector.
“There is no change to the physical distancing requirements in our revised guidance for the reopening next week, compared to the guidance that was in place the last time pubs and restaurants and cafes were allowed to open.
“Anybody who says otherwise is misleading people.”
Stephen Montgomery, spokesman for the Scottish Hospitality Group, said in a statement: “We’re reassured to hear that what premises did last year will still be acceptable this year.
“It’s extremely frustrating that the Government’s communications on this created confusion and alarm. It’s also very disappointing to have genuine concerns, expressed by anxious business owners, described as myths.
“As for cross-border travel, we would welcome any customers from wherever in the UK so long as they are responsible and following precautions.”
Ms Sturgeon said she expected the vast majority of those in the hospitality trade would be responsible around the rules.
The only change to the guidance, she said, was that venues will have to display what their capacity limits are.
Further guidance around the taking of customer details was published on Tuesday, saying details of all customers must be recorded as opposed to just the “lead” customer.
Stephen Montgomery, owner of the Townhead Hotel in Lockerbie and a spokesman for the Scottish Hospitality Group, had earlier said there was confusion over what was required from April 26.
He told The Herald newspaper: “The official document has caused fears that the social distancing has been extended because they have a table that shows a 3.5 metre table that is required for six people.
“Nobody has a table of that size. I have to put six together to meet the requirements for six people from six different households. There is all the panic of trying to source tables.
“People are becoming scared now, because we are six days to opening up.”
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