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Miller Samuel Hill Brown Solicitors Blog

From time to time we will post news articles and announcements relating to the firm and to various legal issues that may be of interest to you.


COVID MSHB All information contain within this update is accurate at the time of publication. During these unprecedented times where the situation is constantly changing at pace it is vital that you take expert advice where necessary. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you wish to discuss any issues covered in these updates further. The Hill Brown Licensing Team and the wider team at Miller Samuel Hill Brown remain committed to providing the fullest possible service for the trade at this extremely challenging time.

To view our Coronavirus Crisis Licensing archive click here.


Update 10 August 2021

Hospitality returns to normal – almost

As of yesterday, Scotland’s hospitality industry sees the end of most restrictions and in their place a number of legal “requirements” come into force, with nightclubs allowed to trade for the first time in 17 months.

The detail is set out in the Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Requirements) (Scotland) Regulations 2021.

The move beyond “Level 0” was confirmed by the First Minister in her statement to the Parliament on 3 August.

Two major issues were left in limbo. Would nightclub customer require to wear face coverings on the dance floor? Would so-called “vertical drinking” be permitted? The answers are, respectively, “No” and “Yes”.

The default position is that face coverings require to be worn in indoor hospitality (and other) settings. In fact, according to Miss Sturgeon they “are likely to be mandated in law for some time to come”.

But the new Regulations contain a lengthy raft of exceptions so that coverings are not required:

  • in a restaurant, cafe, bar, public house, nightclub, dance hall, discotheque or sexual entertainment venue where customers are seated at a table;
  • where persons are “eating or drinking”;
  • where persons are “taking part in exercise of a type which reasonably requires that the person is not wearing a face covering”.

It may not be immediately obvious, but dancing is to be regarded as “exercise”. The position is made clear by the updated Scottish Government guidance:

“[I]n a hospitality setting, customers may remove their mask for the purposes of eating or drinking.  Customers need not be seated to eat or drink. The regulations also provide an exemption for exercise which would include dancing. Unless eating, drinking or dancing or being seated at a table, therefore, when moving around, queuing at the bar, entering or leaving, going to the toilet etc. a face covering must be worn. This is a legal requirement.”

There is no exemption for customers engaged in activities such as the playing of pool or darts.

So far as staff are concerned, coverings must be worn unless:

  • there is a partition between the worker and members of the public or a distance of at least one metre is maintained; or
  • the staff member is “undertaking food handling tasks, to avoid risk to the hygiene or safety of food arising from or in connection with the wearing of a face covering”.

Limits on social gatherings have been removed. Social distancing is no longer required, except in a number of cases where one metre must be maintained as a mitigating measure if a face covering is not worn (see the example above).

Pub quizzes, dominoes and other table games are permitted again: operators should employ suitable hygiene measures and follow the Scottish Government’s good practice guidance.

There’s a continuing requirement to collect visitor information which must be retained for period of at least 21 days beginning with the date on which the visit occurred.

If you require any assistance with the operation of the new arrangements – or help with any other licensing matter – contact our licensing team.

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