All pubs in Glasgow and Edinburgh will have to close for 16 days from Friday under the latest wave of COVID-19 restrictions in Scotland, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon says.
The number of COVID-19 cases in Scotland has been accelerating since mid-September, with 1054 new cases reported on Wednesday, driven by infections in the central belt, which includes Glasgow and Edinburgh.
The move comes amid reports Prime Minister Boris Johnson is reportedly drawing up plans to order pubs and restaurants across northern England to close.
Mr Johnson is expected to announce new restrictions on the hospitality sector in huge swathes of the north where coronavirus cases are rising.
Mr Sturgeon said the measures in Scotland were intended to be a “short, sharp action to arrest a worrying increase in infection”.
“While the measures I announce today will feel like a backward step … they are in the interests of protecting our progress overall,” Ms Sturgeon told the Scottish parliament.
“Without action … we are likely to return to the peak levels of infection we had in the spring by the end of this month.”
The ban comes as cases have started to surge among the older generation in Scotland.
Beyond the country’s central belt, she said pubs, restaurants and cafes would be able to operate indoors to serve food and non-alcoholic drinks only between 6am and 6pm for the 16-day period.
They will be able to continue to serve alcohol outdoors until the existing curfew time of 10pm, she said.