Special Licensing Standards Newsletter Following Statement of First Minister on 14th December 2021

Changes to ScotGov guidance and regulations as a result of the Omicron Variant

On 14th December the First Minister provided an update on the Omicron strain of Coronavirus and as a result of this, ScotGov has issued new guidance, which will come into force from at 0001 on Friday 17th December and will be backed up by statutory regulation in due course.

In summary in relation to hospitality premises, with the arrival of the new Omicron variant, operators and staff should strengthen compliance with current protection measures and make an extra effort to do so from now through the festive period and beyond. This means operators should consider introducing / re-introducing the following as reasonable and practical measures to employ -

  • Queue management – many premises are already familiar with managing queues, either at doors or within premises.  Consider whether current arrangements can be expanded or new arrangements introduced to manage pinch points, such as at bar areas, so that customers have adequate space to queue apart from one another i.e. 1 metre, and crowding does not occur.
  • Ordering systems – consider whether adaptations to existing ordering systems, such as via apps or at designated queue managed ordering points, can reduce interactions within premises.
  • One way systems – consider, where practical, whether introducing, or reintroducing, a one way system will reduce the pressure on pinch points within premises.
  • Table service – where not already the practice, consider whether reverting to table service is practical.  This is an effective way to reduce opportunities for crowding and may also meet with customer preference in the current context of the pandemic.
  • Use of screens – consider whether the use of screens between tables and or at service points can add to enhanced risk management measures.
  • Capacity management – linked to queue management, consider whether busy times can be made safer by reassessing how customer flow through the premises is managed i.e. is there merit in ticketing peak festive opening, which may also help with stock management.

The Guidance also provides a Q&A section where most queries are answered.

Continuation of Vaccine Certification Scheme

There has been no change to the Vaccine Certification Scheme and proof of two vaccinations or a negative Lateral Flow Test (taken within the preceding 24 hours) will be acceptable when wishing to enter nightclubs and other late night premises; adult entertainment venues; unseated indoor live events with more than 500 people in the audience; unseated outdoor live events with more than 4000 people in the audience; and any event of any nature which has more than 10000 people in attendance.  The above guidance document contains a Q&A section where most queries are answered.


Vaccine Certification - Checks & SIA Accredited Door Stewarding

Recently there has been discussion on Social media indicating that SIA accredited Door Stewards may be required where checks are being carried out.  The Vaccine Certification guidance document (in the Q&Q) states, that:

“It is for operators to determine the best approach to compliance with COVID certification, which may vary depending on the type of late night premises.  There is no requirement in the regulations for those checking vaccine certificates/records of negative test results/evidence of exemption to be industry accredited security personnel (hold an SIA license), but if checking is being carried out by door staff with a role of  `manned guarding of licensed premises` then an SIA license would be required. Operators should also check the terms of their insurance arrangements where there may be a requirement for staff in certain roles i.e. door staff, to be industry accredited security personnel.”


Collecting Customer Contact Details Remains High Priority

Collecting customer contact details remains a legal obligation for hospitality premises, and it is important that both premises and individuals co-operate with this requirement, as it is crucial to national efforts to suppress the virus. This measure forms part of enabling hospitality businesses to open safely, minimising the risk of the number of infections increasing, and reduce the risk of requiring future restrictions.

This guidance applies to any hospitality establishment that provides an on-site service such as pubs, restaurants and cafes. It includes where a service is provided indoors, or outdoors in a designated service area such as a beer garden. As of 09 August 2021, it also applies to nightclubs, dance halls, discotheques and sexual entertainment venues.

It does not, however, apply where services are taken off-site immediately, for example, a food outlet which only provides takeaways. If a business offers a mixture of a sit-in and takeaway service, contact information only needs to be collected for customers who are sitting in.


Face Coverings

Face coverings in Scotland - by law you must still wear one in most indoor public places in Scotland, even if you have been vaccinated. Some exemptions apply.


Any questions? You can contact licensing standards or the Licensing Board team for further information.


The Licensing Standards service does not provide legal advice or opinion and the above information should not be considered such.  Any legal advice or opinion on licensing matters should be obtained from a licensing solicitor.