SCOTLAND has introduced tougher new alcohol restrictions for pubs and bars – but what are the rules for England, Wales and Northern Ireland?

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon today confirmed that pubs and restaurants in Scotland will be barred from serving alcohol indoors for 16 days to help stop the spread of coronavirus.

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Ms Sturgeon said the restrictions were "intended to be short, sharp action to arrest a worrying increase in infection".

It comes as the First Minister warned Scotland is likely to return to the peak of the coronavirus pandemic by the end of October if no action is taken.

Speaking in an update today, Ms Sturgeon said: "We need to do more, and we need to do it now."

Pub and alcohol rules for Scotland

Pubs and restaurants inside Scotland's so-called "central belt" will be ordered to shut their doors completely as part of the new rules.

The central belt covers around 60% of the population of Scotland, some 3.4million people, and includes Edinburgh and Glasgow.

But businesses outside the central belt will still be allowed to serve alcohol, although only outside, until 10pm. Staff can't serve booze inside.

Food and non-alcoholic drinks will be allowed inside these venues until 6pm each day. Takeaways are also allowed to continue.

The new rules come into effect from 6pm this Friday, October 7, and are expected to last for 16 days, so until Sunday, October 25.

In addition, Scottish residents inside the central belt are being asked to avoid public transport unless absolutely necessary, while snooker halls, indoor bowling alleys, casinos and bingo halls will close for two weeks.

Gyms and hotels will be allowed to remain open in all areas of Scotland.

Responding to the new rules, pub consumer group the Campaign for Real Ale Director for Scotland Joe Crawford said: "The First Minister’s announcement banning the serving of alcohol indoors for 16 days across the country is absolutely devastating news for pubs and breweries.  

"Publicans who have been operating at reduced rates, and who have already invested thousands of pounds of their dwindling reserves making their premises COVID-secure, now face 16 days without any turnover whatsoever.

"Understandably, they feel like pubs have become the scapegoat for the pandemic."

The Scottish government says "financial compensation" will be offered to places which must close, although it's not explained how this will work, or how much help it will offer.

There are no 24 hour alcohol sellers in Scotland, unlike England and Wales – instead, shops aren't able to sell alcohol after 10pm.

Scotland’s mini-lockdown – what are the rules?


  • Greater Glasgow and Clyde, Lanarkshire, Ayrshire and Arran, Lothian and Forth Valley have extra restrictions – covering 3.4million people
  • Pubs and bars have to close – both indoors and outdoors
  • Takeaways are still allowed
  • Hotels can remain open, and cafes
  • But hospitality faces a 6pm curfew
  • Contact sports for people aged 18 and over suspended for 2 weeks
  • Indoor group exercise activities not allowed
  • Outdoor live events banned for two weeks
  • People should avoid public transport unless absolutely necessary
  • No need to cancel half term breaks but stay local if you can
  • Gyms remain open but only for individuals
  • Snooker and pool halls, indoor bowling alleys, casinos and bingo halls will close for two weeks


  • For 16 days from this Friday at 6pm to Sunday 25 October, inclusive, indoor hospitality will have to shut at 6pm
  • Hotels can operate restaurants but only for residents – and with no alcohol
  • Outdoor hospitality can continue to serve alcohol outside up to 10pm
  • Exceptions for life events like weddings already booked, and funerals
  • No need to shield but take extra care if vulnerable

Pub and alcohol rules for England

England currently has a 10pm curfew on businesses in the hospitality industry, which came info force on September 24.

As part of the rules, restaurants and pubs can only run table services, which means no ordering at the bar.

Takeaways can still be delivered after the 10pm deadline, and drive-thru services can still be used.

Businesses affected by the 10pm curfew include:

  • Pubs
  • Restaurants
  • Social clubs
  • Casinos
  • Bowling alleys
  • Amusement arcades
  • Funfairs
  • Theme parks
  • Adventure parks
  • Activity parks
  • Bingo halls

The rules are slightly different for cinemas and other businesses which show performances.

These venues can remain open for the duration of a performance which had already started before 10pm, for example, a film.

But they won't be allowed to serve food or drink to customers after 10pm.

Pub and alcohol rules for Wales

Wales has also introduced a 10pm curfew on businesses in the hospitality industry, and they too can only offer table service.

But unlike England, shops and supermarkets have been banned from selling alcohol after this time.

The new rules came into force September 29. They come on top of local lockdown restrictions already in place in large parts of Wales.

Wales' First Minister Mark Drakeford said: "Once again, we are facing rising cases of coronavirus infections in different parts of Wales and once again we are seeing people being admitted to our hospitals with serious illnesses because of this virus.

"In the weeks and months ahead of us, there is a very real possibility we could see coronavirus regain a foothold in our local communities, towns and cities. None of us wants to see that happen again.

"We need everyone to follow the rules and guidance and to take the steps to protect them and their loved ones. Together, we can keep Wales safe."

Pub and alcohol rules for Northern Ireland

In Northern Ireland, pubs and restaurants have been ordered to close at 11pm – an hour later than in England and Wales.

Last orders for pubs are at 10.30pm, giving boozers half an hour to get customers out.

This has been the case since September 30, with the rules also affecting cafes, hotels and guesthouses.

It was already written in law that shops and off-licences must also stop selling alcohol at this time.

Announcing the new rules, First Minister Arlene Foster said: "The intention behind the earlier closing time is that socialising later in the evening is considered to increase the risk of virus spreading."

Wetherspoon boss Tim Martin warned pubs and restaurants face being wiped out if further restrictions are brought in – with up to a million jobs on the line throughout the industry.

It comes as Greene King confirmed it was planning on closing 79 pubs and cutting 800 jobs.

In September, Wetherspoon's announced plans to cut 350 jobs from its six airport pubs.

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