Nicola Sturgeon hints pubs could have closed if her Government had the powers

Nicola Sturgeon has hinted that pubs may have “likely” closed if the powers had been available to her Government.

The First Minister said it was not an “unreasonable question” to ask why pubs have not closed, but she said she went as far as she could.

In a bid to get to grips with rising levels of covid-19, Sturgeon yesterday announced new restrictions on everyday life.

A ban on visiting other people’s homes – the same curb has been in place in the west of Scotland – was extended on a national basis.

She also announced a 10pm closing time for pubs and restaurants – in line with the restrictions in England.

At her daily briefing today, she hinted that she had wanted to go further than a curfew:

“Many people ask me why we don’t just close pubs completely right now. And, actually, that is not an unreasonable question.

“And as I said yesterday, if the Scottish Government had the power to borrow money, or to extend the furlough job retention scheme so we could mitigate the impact on jobs, it is very possible, perhaps even likely, that we would have reached a different decision on hospitality yesterday.

“But we went as far as we could within the powers we have.”

Pub closures would likely require the Government to pay some or all of the wages of affected staff, a hugely expensive policy.

She added that she would be writing to the Prime Minister requesting “urgent discussions” so that Holyrood could get fiscal flexibility.

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