Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, has announced fresh restrictions on the hospitality industry, including the complete closure of pubs, bars and restaurants across five central regions from Friday.

Speaking on Wednesday afternoon, Sturgeon told MPs the measures are required to tackle soaring Covid cases in Scotland. The latest restrictions will see hospitality venues close throughout the country’s densely populated central regions for over two weeks – a major blow for premises in the urban centers of Glasgow and Edinburgh.

Meanwhile, pubs and restaurants in other regions will be subjected to less severe restrictions, limiting their opening hours to 6pm and a ban on the sale of alcohol indoors. 

Measures on hospitality are intended to be in force for 16 days from this Friday at 6pm to Sunday 25 October inclusive – in other words, across the next two weeks and three weekends.

Sturgeon added that she was aware that the restrictions would be “unwelcome,” but said they were “designed to reduce the likelihood of a future lockdown.” 

The leader of the Conservative Party in the Scottish Parliament, Ruth Davidson, shared her frustration after the announcement, claiming the new measures are “putting massive restrictions on people’s lives and livelihoods.” 

Covid cases in Scotland have risen sharply in recent weeks, increasing at a similar rate to those in neighboring England. According to Scottish government figures released on Wednesday, 1,054 new cases of Covid had been reported in the past 24 hours – that’s 13 percent of tests returning a positive result. These recent figures take Scotland’s total tally to 34,760 cases and 4,276 Covid-related deaths.

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