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The First Minister on 13 January 2021 announced a further tightening of the lockdown in place across mainland Scotland. These measures are designed to maximise the impact of the lockdown and to make sure that people only leave their home for essential reasons. A copy of the First Minister’s statement can be read here and the subsequent draft regulations can be found here.
These new restrictions in so far as they relate to the retail and hospitality sectors will come into force on Saturday 16 January 2021.
Our earlier guide to the broader impact of the “Levels” Regulations can be found here.
Of particular relevance to the hospitality and retail sectors are the restrictions around “click and collect” and takeaway facilities.
At this time we understand the following restrictions will be implemented as of Saturday 16 January 2021:
Click and collect services can only offered by essential retailers and the following other retailers:
For ease of reference, essential retailers include supermarkets, convenience stores, off licence premises, and breweries/distilleries. This means that the aforementioned premises can continue to offer a click and collect service assuming the underlying licensing permission is in place. Orders for the click and collect service must be received via a website / app, telephone / text message, or by post.Those premises permitted to operate this service will need to: (i) offer staggered appointments for collection with a gap where reasonably possible between appointments to prevent queuing; and (ii) access to the premises is only to the extent necessary to pick up the order. We are aware of a number of clients who already have these measures in place and our advice is to ensure that consumer expectations are managed with appropriate messaging on their remote ordering platform (website/app etc).
Takeaway services are of great importance to many beleaguered hospitality businesses and they continue to be permitted, however, their operation is being limited. Customers will no longer be permitted to go inside the premises to purchase takeaway food or drink, including alcohol, coffees, or teas. This change is being introduced to limit the risk of customers coming into contact with each other and staff indoors.
This means that premises offering takeaway services must make sure that customers do not enter the premises when collecting their order. Therefore, the order must be collected from a doorway, hatch, or window with the customer remaining on the footpath. For the avoidance of doubt, home deliveries can continue.
It is unclear how this will affect business classed as “essential” retail that might also offer “food to go”, such as a local convenience store which might also offer coffees and hot filled rolls. The regulations are silent on this point.
While it is already illegal to consume alcohol in public across parts of Scotland under local authority byelaws, the government has said that a blanket ban on the consumption of alcohol in Level 4 areas (which, at present, is the entirety of mainland Scotland) in public will be introduced. It is unclear if this is a widespread issue at the moment given the weather, however, the rationale on the face of it is to emphasise that you should only be leaving home for essential purposes. Operators offering off sales of alcohol should reflect on any due diligence measures in relation to products sold which may be viewed as for immediate consumption and consider appropriate messaging to their customers to underline this new prohibition.
The First Minister indicated that an evidence paper will be published in relation to these new measures and we will be interested to see if there is any data in relation to transmission of the virus as a result of the consumption of alcohol in outdoor public places, as well as any data which may relate to the prevalence of gatherings of persons in or outside business premises to collect pre-ordered items.
These government took the opportunity of using this opportunity to amend the Regulations to clarify that retail and food and drink businesses can be used as vaccination centres. This will only apply where an agreement has been reached with the government or your local health board.
All of the above restrictions are to take effect as of Saturday 16 January. While the regulations have been published we await the guidance. This guidance will add some detail as to how the government expects businesses to implement these further restrictions. Businesses will want to start to review their operations and plan the changes required so to comply. This may mean layout changes or considering furlough where the business is not viable owing to the further restrictions.
Should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact one of the team at TLT.
14 January 2021