Drinkers in Scotland partied to closing time last night as they did anything but toast Nicola Sturgeon’s incoming 16-day alcohol ban.

Groups enjoyed the chance to have one final pint in Glasgow and Edinburgh before the sweeping restriction comes in at 6pm this evening.

Scotland’s First Minister imposed the two-week alcohol ban inside pubs and restaurants across the country and closed bars entirely in coronavirus hotspot areas.

It comes as punters were out and about in the North of England as it also faces tougher anti-Covid measures, with tens of thousands of venues across the region threatened with temporary closure from next week.

Two women make the most of their last chance to enjoy pubs for the next two weeks in the Scottish capital of Edinburgh on Thursday night

Two women make the most of their last chance to enjoy pubs for the next two weeks in the Scottish capital of Edinburgh on Thursday night

For some, the chance to have a final beer before the restrictions, was something to record on their phones for posterity (pictured, Glasgow)

For some, the chance to have a final beer before the restrictions, was something to record on their phones for posterity (pictured, Glasgow)

A woman holds up her phone as her friend brandishes her near-empty pint in Edinburgh on Thursday night ahead of new restrictions

A woman holds up her phone as her friend brandishes her near-empty pint in Edinburgh on Thursday night ahead of new restrictions 

Four friends share a joke and laugh during their night out in Edinburgh city centre on Thursday nights ahead of new restrictions

Four friends share a joke and laugh during their night out in Edinburgh city centre on Thursday nights ahead of new restrictions

Pubs and restaurants will have enjoyed a final night of custom ahead of the regulations, branded a 'death sentence' by some (pictured, Edinburgh)

Pubs and restaurants will have enjoyed a final night of custom ahead of the regulations, branded a ‘death sentence’ by some (pictured, Edinburgh)

The move in Scotland has been branded a ‘death sentence’ for hundreds of venues and has been slated by frustrated members of the public.

Ms Sturgeon took the unpopular decision after this week warning cases had started to surge among the older generation. 

She told MSPs at Holyrood that the situation was ‘better than March’, but admitted she needed to take a ‘backward step’ as she unveiled a dramatic ‘circuit breaker’ squeeze to coincide with the school half-term north of the border.

As well as a ban on serving alcohol, hospitality venues will only be allowed to open from 6am to 6pm as Ms Sturgeon said without the crackdown the virus could be ‘out of control by the end of this month’. 

But in five ‘hotspot’ areas in Scotland’s central belt, which includes Edinburgh and Glasgow and is home to approximately 70 per cent of the population, pubs will be closed altogether apart from takeaways until October 26 and people will be advised against using public transport. 

Hospitality bosses last night described the decision as a ‘total catastrophe’ that will be the ‘final straw,’ for hundreds of venues.

The lure of one final drink saw huge queues at some venues for people trying to have their last night out before the ban (pictured, Edinburgh)

The lure of one final drink saw huge queues at some venues for people trying to have their last night out before the ban (pictured, Edinburgh)

Five Edinburgh drinkers raise their glasses for a final time before the hospitality sector is hit tonight by the new rukes

Five Edinburgh drinkers raise their glasses for a final time before the hospitality sector is hit tonight by the new rukes

Groups walked home after their last drink in Edinburgh, bracing themselves for the 16 days of not being able to buy a pint inside a pub

Groups walked home after their last drink in Edinburgh, bracing themselves for the 16 days of not being able to buy a pint inside a pub

A group of mates smile for a photograph as they sink their pints in Edinburgh city centre last night ahead of new measures tonight

A group of mates smile for a photograph as they sink their pints in Edinburgh city centre last night ahead of new measures tonight

Sector chiefs said Ms Sturgeon had ‘effectively signed a death sentence for many businesses’ and said the ‘real problem’ was socialising at home.

The Scottish Licensed Trade Association told the Telegraph more than two-thirds of pubs, bars and restaurants ‘could be mothballed or go under’, along with more than half the sector’s jobs. 

Meanwhile, Mr Hancock appeared to pave the way for a similar localised crackdown on pubs in England as he said that ‘outside your household and socialising between households, the highest place in incidence of likely transmission, measured by where people have contacts, is unfortunately hospitality’.

However, a targeted shutdown of hospitality venues in hotspot areas appears more likely than a nationwide approach, with Downing Street still committed to its strategy of local lockdowns in specific areas where the virus has spiked.

Imposing some of the toughest restrictions in Europe, Ms Sturgeon said that if it was ‘a purely one dimensional decision’ about tackling the disease there would be even harsher action, but she was considering the wider economy and wellbeing.

But it provoked howls of protest from the hospitality industry, who branded the clampdown a ‘total catastrophe’ and warned a swathe of business will go under permanently.

Drinkers in Edinburgh share a final sup as they marked the final night before the coronavirus tackling rules were imposed

Drinkers in Edinburgh share a final sup as they marked the final night before the coronavirus tackling rules were imposed

In Edinburgh people made the most of their last night of freedom before Nicola Sturgeon's measures were due to hit today

In Edinburgh people made the most of their last night of freedom before Nicola Sturgeon’s measures were due to hit today

Hordes of drinkers headed home after closing time at 10pm in Glasgow city, ahead of the drinking ban coming in today

Hordes of drinkers headed home after closing time at 10pm in Glasgow city, ahead of the drinking ban coming in today

Some revellers took selfies of their last night of drinking before the strict regulations came in for parts of Scotland (pictured, Glasgow)

Some revellers took selfies of their last night of drinking before the strict regulations came in for parts of Scotland (pictured, Glasgow)

Sturgeon calls time: Scotland’s new Covid regulations in full

  • All pubs, restaurants and cafes barred from selling alcohol indoors for 16 days.
  • They will additionally face a curfew forcing them to close by 6pm each evening.
  • Outdoor bars, restaurants and cafes will be allowed to remain open up until 10pm and will be allowed to sell alcohol up to that time. 
  • In five areas of Scotland’s Central Belt – which includes Edinburgh and Glasgow – there will be additional restrictions on opening.
  • Pubs, restaurants and licenced cafes in the ‘hotspots’ of Greater Glasgow & Clyde, Lanarkshire, Ayrshire & Arran, Lothian, and Forth Valley, will be forced to close to all but takeaway customers. 
  • The measures come into force at 6pm on Friday for 16 days until October 25.  
  • Residents of these areas have also been urged to avoid public transport unless absolutely necessary in the next two weeks. They should only use it to get to work, school or for other unavoidable journeys. 
  • Outdoor live events will be banned in the five areas for the next two weeks.
  • Snooker and pool halls, indoor bowling alleys, casinos and bingo halls will close in these areas for two weeks from October 10.
  • Contact sports and indoor group exercise for those aged 18 and over is suspended for the same period.
  • Face coverings will become mandatory in indoor communal settings.
  • An additional £40 million in funding will be made available to businesses impacted by the new restrictions.

The extraordinary step – which Ms Sturgeon said would be accompanied with £40million of new compensation for stricken firms – came as Scotland reported more than 1,000 new infections in a day.

Just south of the border, ministers were accused of using flimsy data after they relied on figures based on fewer than 100 pubs to justify the potential closure of tens of thousands of venues across the North of England.

No10 faced a concerted backlash from local leaders and MPs over plans to subject millions of people living in the North to even tougher restrictions from next week.

One Tory MP said the data had been ‘cobbled together’ to justify the pub closures, using a three-month-old survey carried out in the US as well as cherry-picked figures.

Sir Keir Starmer accused Boris Johnson of causing ‘confusion, chaos and unfairness’ by revealing the exact measures will be announced next week, while they are still being discussed.

Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty briefed 149 MPs from the North and the Midlands yesterday to tell them that a ‘significant proportion’ of exposure to coronavirus was happening in the hospitality sector.

He showed them a table which suggested that 32 per cent of transmission may be occurring in pubs, bars, cafes and restaurants, with only 2.6 per cent taking place in the home.

But the MPs complained the information was ‘selective’ and clearly serving the Government’s purpose. 

They pointed out how the NHS Test and Trace figures show a huge 75.3 per cent of transmissions take place home, with only 5.5 per cent happening in pubs, restaurants and churches.

It also emerged last night that the Public Health England data was based on a very small sample size.  It derived from contact tracing data referring to just 98 pubs and 67 cafes and restaurants.  

A PHE spokesman said each reported case referred to two separate Covid-positive patients who had been in the same venue within the past week. But the data is not able to assert if they caught the virus in the same place. 

A Department of Health spokesman said ‘enhanced’ contract tracing suggested the place of infection was in hospitality venues. 

Chris Whitty's claim that a ‘significant proportion’ of exposure to coronavirus was happening in the hospitality sector has come under fire. With one Conservative MP describing the Government's data as 'incredibly thin'

Chris Whitty’s claim that a ‘significant proportion’ of exposure to coronavirus was happening in the hospitality sector has come under fire. With one Conservative MP describing the Government’s data as ‘incredibly thin’ 

In Newcastle, crowds gathered outside Bijoux, a popular bar, as parts of northern England prepare for new rules to be enforced next week

In Newcastle, crowds gathered outside Bijoux, a popular bar, as parts of northern England prepare for new rules to be enforced next week

Sir Keir Starmer accused Boris Johnson of causing 'confusion, chaos and unfairness' by revealing the exact measures will be announced next week, while they are still being discussed. Pictured: revellers in Newcastle

Sir Keir Starmer accused Boris Johnson of causing ‘confusion, chaos and unfairness’ by revealing the exact measures will be announced next week, while they are still being discussed. Pictured: revellers in Newcastle

Included in the dossier given by Chris Whitty was a Cabinet Office document marked ‘official sensitive’ which referenced a report from July from the US Centres for Disease Control.

The study found people that of the 154 people who had tested positive, they were around twice as likely to have dined at a restaurant in the previous two weeks before they experienced symptoms.  

One Tory MP from a Red Wall seat told The Telegraph: ‘It was very clear to everyone on the call that they had cobbled together this data as a retrospective attempt to justify closing pubs. 

The document that spilled the beans 

The controversial data quoted by Professor Whitty is based on an ‘enhanced contact tracing’ exercise, the Department of Health said. 

It asks people who they met – and where they met them. But it is based on a very small sample. 

If two infected people both tell tracers that they have been to a venue in the past week, it is seen as an indication, but not proof, that the virus may have been transmitted between them. 

But they don’t even have had to be there at the same time. 

The data shows there were 98 occasions where two or more people told contact tracers they had been to the same pub. 

Another 67 cases referred to people having been to the same cafe or restaurant. 

‘Given what we know from the official NHS figures, why are they quoting data from a tiny survey carried out in America? It’s just meaningless.’

Last night the British Beer and Pub Association warned the Government that the data was not good enough to justify the closure of pubs.

One expert suggested 7,000 venues across the North would be forced to close. But Downing Street denied that any decisions had yet been taken on lockdown measures. 

One Tory MP who attended the briefing said: ‘It is clear that the data to justify further action on hospitality is incredibly thin. It is so weak they can’t even publish it.’ 

Professor Whitty also appeared to suggest that the national 10pm curfew for pubs, bars and restaurants introduced last month was based on nothing more than the fact that other countries had imposed it. 

Last night northern politicians lined up to condemn the Prime Minister for the ‘reckless’ plan to close all pubs and restaurants in the worst-hit areas. 

Andy Burnham, the Labour mayor for Greater Manchester, told BBC Radio 4’s World At One: ‘I will not any more put up with a situation where they impose things on the North of England that will cause real damage to people’s lives.’ 

And Emma McClarkin, of the British Beer and Pub Association, said: ‘We are still yet to see the hard evidence in England that blanket measures to lock down pubs, with their strict adherence to government guidelines, will significantly stop the spread of the virus.’ 

But Ben Bradley, Tory MP for Mansfield, who took part in the call, said: ‘We talked about the North West and North East in particular, where we were talking about – in three weeks’ time – having hospitalisation levels higher than in the original peak.’

Meanwhile Minister for Skills and Apprenticeships Gillian Keegan said Britain was in an ‘unbelievably serious situation’.

She said the government had to act to stem the spike in coronavirus cases, saying to BBC: ‘This is serious – it is getting out of control, and we have to do something to bring it back under control.’

But she added: ‘We definitely need to work locally and we definitely need to make sure that the communications are much clearer.’

In Liverpool, many students and young people gathered in very close proximity to each other despite fears over rising infections

In Liverpool, many students and young people gathered in very close proximity to each other despite fears over rising infections

The British Beer and Pub Association warned the Government that the data was not good enough to justify the closure of pubs. Pictured: a night out in Newcastle on Thursday

The British Beer and Pub Association warned the Government that the data was not good enough to justify the closure of pubs. Pictured: a night out in Newcastle on Thursday

Chris Whitty suggested they merely followed other countries by imposing a 10pm curfew, suggesting they had no data themselves to back up the new measures

Chris Whitty suggested they merely followed other countries by imposing a 10pm curfew, suggesting they had no data themselves to back up the new measures

Last night northern politicians lined up to condemn the Prime Minister for the 'reckless' plan to close all pubs and restaurants in the worst-hit areas. Pictured: students out in Liverpool on Thursday

Last night northern politicians lined up to condemn the Prime Minister for the ‘reckless’ plan to close all pubs and restaurants in the worst-hit areas. Pictured: students out in Liverpool on Thursday

A man blows smoke as he vapes in the city centre of Manchester as Downing Street said new data suggests there is 'significant' transmission taking place in hospitality settings

A man blows smoke as he vapes in the city centre of Manchester as Downing Street said new data suggests there is ‘significant’ transmission taking place in hospitality settings

Steve Rotheram, the mayor of the Liverpool City Region, told ITV’s Good Morning Britain: ‘Quite simply the North should not be a petri dish for experimentation by central government.’ 

Sir Keir Starmer also wrote in The Telegraph, saying how people are facing a ‘weekend of uncertainty’ because of the delay in announcing the new three-tier system.

Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick yesterday came close to confirming that action is looming. 

‘It is correct to say the number of cases in the North West and the North East and a number of cities, particularly in the Midlands like Nottingham, are rising fast and that is a serious situation,’ he said. 

‘We are currently considering what steps we should take, obviously taking the advice of our scientific and medical advisers, and a decision will be made shortly.’ 

He added it was ‘commonsensical’ that the longer people spent in pubs together, the higher the risk of infection was, as he backed the 10pm curfew.

Altus Group, a real estate advisor, estimated that 7,200 pubs in the North could be closed down – one in five of all English pubs.

Last night a Government spokesman admitted that the ‘early analysis’ did not constitute proof of transmission. 

‘We are seeing coronavirus cases rise across the country, with particularly fast growth in the North East and North West,’ he said. 

‘We constantly monitor the data and are considering a range of options to suppress the virus, protect communities and save lives.’



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