Supporting outdoor hospitality

Helping businesses adapt to physical distancing measures.

Pubs, restaurants and cafes in Scotland will have greater flexibility to make use of outside spaces, as outdoor hospitality resumes from 6 July.

Regulations on planning are being temporarily relaxed to support the industry to safely restart as the country emerges from lockdown.

To allow businesses and their customers adhere to physical distancing measures, areas such as public footpaths may be used for seating, and could also include structures such as open-sided gazebos.

Planning Minister Kevin Stewart said:

“Scotland’s hospitality industry is vital to our economy which is why we took immediate steps to address the financial impact of COVID-19, including a £320 million support package specifically aimed at the tourism and hospitality sector.

“As the industry re-opens with physical distancing measures, we want to enable businesses to take steps to provide a safe and pleasant environment for customers.

“Local authorities are responsible for planning and we are already encouraging them to facilitate the use of open outdoor spaces which pubs and restaurants can use.  We have also issued guidance to local licensing boards about how to sensitively and pragmatically deal with requests to use outdoor space for the sale of alcohol.

“Relaxing planning controls on a temporary basis will give even more flexibility to allow businesses to operate, and for some normality to return to life within our communities.”


This updated guidance builds on previous public information that was included in a letter from the Chief Planner and Minister for Planning on May 29.

Any uses of land and temporary structures being allowed through the planning system will still need to comply with continued physical distancing restrictions. Businesses will also need to comply with any other non-planning requirements, such as licensing.


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