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Covid in Scotland: Bar workers dump leftover ice in closure protest



Bar and restaurant workers have dumped piles of leftover ice outside the Scottish Parliament in protest at being forced to close by Covid restrictions.

Demonstrations also took place outside the City Chambers in Glasgow after pubs in Scotland’s central belt were told to close for 16 days.

The closures form part of new Scottish government rules to try and suppress the spread of coronavirus.

About 3.4 million people are currently subject to the strictest curbs.

They involve licensed premises in Greater Glasgow and Clyde, Lothian, Lanarkshire, Forth Valley and Ayrshire and Arran being closed until 25 October – although they can still serve takeaways.

People wearing masks cheered as dozens of Glasgow hospitality workers took part in the protest outside the City Chambers at George Square on Friday evening.

Bucket-loads of ice were thrown on the street before a truck dumped a huge pile in the road.

Caitlin Lee, a worker at Blythswood Square Hotel in the city, said the ban on alcohol sales had brought uncertainty to the entire hospitality industry.

She said: “Our occupancy within the hotel is obviously expecting to drop because people can’t go out.

“We’re now in a position where we don’t know what’s going to happen. Hospitality and everyone in hospitality has already went through the first wave of not being able to work and now we’re coming into a second wave of it.

“Are we going to be able to work into Christmas and New Year?”

Chloe Fraser, who previously worked in hospitality for 10 years, said the industry was being punished. She blamed those attending illegal house parties for causing the virus to spread.

She said: “It’s clearly seen that people are not obeying the law or caring about the bigger picture.

“Hospitality is having to spend a lot of money putting the screens up, having to do all of these extra things which they’ve been abiding by in Glasgow. What’s happening afterhours is the issue.

“These independent companies can’t afford these losses. That’s why we’re seeing this.”

‘Absolute sympathy’

Scotland’s national clinical director, Prof Jason Leitch, said he had “absolute sympathy for every sector that has had to take a hit”.

But he told BBC Scotland’s Off The Ball programme: “I also have sympathy for the thousand people who caught the virus yesterday, and the five people who died and their families. So all things are relative.

“Yes, we absolutely want every industry to get back to normal – football, elite sport, pubs and hospitality, oil and gas, everything.

“But there comes a time when the numbers reach a certain point and you’ve got to do things you don’t want to do.”

Hospitality venues in the rest of Scotland are allowed to open, but are only permitted to serve non-alcoholic drinks and food indoors between 06:00 and 18:00.

Licensed premises in these areas are still able to serve alcohol in outdoor areas, such as beer gardens, up to the 22:00 curfew introduced in September.

The Scottish government has published details of a £40m support package for businesses forced to close due to Covid restrictions.

And UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak has said employees who work for firms forced to shut by law because of coronavirus restrictions are entitled to get two-thirds of their wages paid by the government.

The scheme is due to begin on 1 November for six months.

It comes ahead of a UK government update on Monday, which could also see pubs and restaurants shut in the worst-affected areas of England.