Requiring clubbers to wear face coverings could be “a bit tricky”, Scotland’s Covid Recovery Secretary has conceded.
John Swinney said discussions will take place with industry leaders ahead of clubs reopening on Monday – the first time they have been allowed to do so since the first coronavirus lockdown was imposed in March 2020.
Mr Swinney, also the Deputy First Minister, said while customers are expected to wear a face mask when moving around in a bar or restaurant, dancing in a nightclub is a “slightly different situation”.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced on Tuesday that most of the remaining coronavirus restrictions in Scotland will be scrapped on August 9, a move which allows nightclubs to open.
However masks will still be required in situations where they are currently mandatory, she said, adding this could be the situation for some time to come.
Speaking on BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland programme on Wednesday, Mr Swinney said: “Where there are existing requirements to wear face coverings in congested public places, moving around in hospitality, in public transport, in all these contexts, people should continue to wear face coverings.”
But he said there is a “specific issue” with nightclubs.
“We will have discussions with the Night Time Industries Association and nightclubs in the course of today about that very issue,” Mr Swinney said.
Asked if it would be practical for people to wear face coverings in clubs, he said: “I think it is a bit tricky. That is why we’re having those discussions. And we could only finalise those discussions once we had taken the strategic decision to allow nightclubs to reopen and what conditions would generally operate within society.
“If people are sitting down at a table and having a drink you can say the hospitality rules apply there and people don’t have to wear a face covering, but if somebody is up dancing, which they are inevitably moving around, the existing rules say they should wear a face covering – but I accept that in a night club that is quite a challenge.
“That is why we are having the discussions and we will iron those issues out in consultation with the sector in the course of today.”
He stressed such issues are “not black and white”, adding: “We’re trying to take steps which minimise the circulation of the virus and we’re trying to do that as practically as possible with the grain of how people want to live their lives.
“I don’t think it’s a particular hardship for people when they get up from a table, if they are having a drink to go to the toilet, they put on a face covering to move through because they will be encountering other people away from the group that they are in.
“I do accept, however, that if you are dancing in a nightclub it is a slightly different situation.”