Perth and Kinross sees indoor pubs welcome back punters as COVID rules lifted

Perth and Kinross residents have been appreciating a pint in their favourite pub and hugging loved ones in their homes for the first time in months today.

But despite the region heading into level two from May 17, the public are being urged to “tread carefully and cautiously” as positive COVID cases surge in Moray and Glasgow.

There has also been a big increase in Perth and Kinross, with the infection rate on May 13 sitting at 29.6 per 100,000 cases after 45 positive tests in a week.

That compares with a rate of 8.6 per cent the week before after 13 positive tests.

Six people from three households are now allowed to meet in private homes while the outdoor socialising limit has increased to eight people from eight households.

Cinemas, bingo halls, some leisure centres and entertainment venues have been permitted to reopen.

Events allowances have also been expanded with up to 100 able to attend an indoor event, 250 for outdoor standing and 500 for outdoors with seating.

With pubs and restaurants now able to serve alcohol to customers indoors, the owner of the The Auld Hoose pub in Perth Mark O’Callaghan was delighted to welcome punters back.

“It has been a long eight and a half months and it is great to see everybody again,” he said.

“We have lost a few people to COVID who are our regulars which is very sad.

“It is good to see people come in the pub and have a blether and a wee slice of normality.

“It is great for people’s mental health. To some the pub is their second living room as they live on their own and when they come in and talk to mates it is the only contact they have all week.

“And we are looking forward to the weekend as we are fully booked for the Scottish Cup final on Saturday.

“We are charging £3 per head and all the money is going to the Perth food bank.

“We will have flags out for the Saints and the pub will be decked out for the occasion.”

With cases rising elsewhere Mark says every precaution needs to be taken to ensure no COVID restrictions are reintroduced.

“Nobody wants to go into lockdown again and you need to make people feel as safe and comfortable as possible,” he added.

“It is still not the time to take the foot off the pedal.”

A similar word of caution was urged by Perthshire North MSP and deputy first minister John Swinney after the announcement that Glasgow and Moray will be in level three for the time being.

Perthshire North MSP John Swinney

“I think there is obviously grounds for a lot of optimism and the relaxation of restrictions enables people to get on with more and more of their lives,” he said on BBC’s Good Morning Scotland.

“But the situation that we face in Glasgow and in Moray illustrates just how fragile the progress that we are making is – so I suppose what I would say to members of the public is that we need to continue to tread carefully and cautiously and warily as we relax these restrictions.

“As we enjoy some of the freedoms that we now have, we’ve got to handle them with a great deal of care.

“I think the last thing we want to do is have local authority areas going in and out of restrictions like a yo-yo.

“That’s the worst of all possible models for the business community and the wider community.

“What we need to try and do is what we’re doing in the overwhelming majority of the country, which is get to a sustained position of suppression for the virus which then enables us to take the necessary action to relax restrictions.”

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