Special Licensing Standards Newsletter Following Statement of First Minister on 21st December 2021

Further Measures needed to reduce Contacts

On 21st December the First Minister provided a further update on the Omicron strain of Coronavirus.

From 05:00 on 27 December, to minimise the risk of widespread transmission, there will be a requirement for one metre physical distancing between groups of adults in all indoor hospitality and leisure settings, including:

  • pubs, bars, restaurants, cafes and other settings where food and drink is served for consumption on-site
  • leisure settings including gyms, theatres, cinemas, bingo and snooker halls and bowling alleys
  • museums, galleries and other visitor attractions

Table service will be required in settings where alcohol is served for consumption on the premises. Customers will have to be seated both when ordering, and when consuming any food or drink, including non-alcoholic drink.

•         In addition, from 05:00 on 26 December, to help ease pressure on emergency services and reduce the risks of transmission in large crowds, attendance at large events will be limited – to 100 people for indoor standing events, to 200 people for indoor seated events, and to 500 people for all outdoor events seated or standing. Organisers of large professional sporting fixtures will have discretion over whether to admit spectators up to these limits.

ScotGov has issued guidance, which will be updated as required.

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.  When customers are queuing to enter premises, a 1 metre distance must be maintained between persons from different households.
  • Ordering systems – consider whether adaptations to existing ordering systems, such as via apps, 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, such as toilets.
  • Table service – this will be mandatory from 27th December and customers will no longer be permitted to order or collect drink from the bar.
  • 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.
  • Face coverings – face coverings are required to be worn except where exemptions apply. For more information, see the ScotGov guidance.

The Guidance also provides a Q&A section where most queries are answered. This will be updated in the next few days in line with the changes announced by the First Minister.

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 late night premises.

The new limits on live events means that the vaccine certification scheme will not apply to permitted events, but you are free to require vaccine certification as a condition of entry to your own premises.

The above guidance document contains a Q&A section where most queries are answered.

Vaccine Certification - Checks and 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.