A pub boss has called on Nicola Sturgeon to ban booze sales in shops in an effort to boost business in bars.
Don Lawson, owner of popular Inverness hostelry Johnny Foxes, said such a move would protect jobs in Scotland’s already struggling hospitality industry.
He wants to see only pubs and restaurants being allowed to sell drinks instead of customers relying on massive supermarket chains.
It comes as the First Minister confirmed yesterday that pubs across Scotland are still barred from serving drink indoors for at least another week, while bars across the central belt must stay closed entirely.
The restrictions mean thirsty customers in Glasgow and Edinburgh won’t be able to enjoy a pint until at least November 2, while pub goers elsewhere in the country can only be sold alcohol outdoors.
Lawson, a well-known publican in Inverness, said it was unfair that supermarkets could continue to profit from booze sales while pubs struggled.
In a letter to the First Minister, he wrote: “Pubs are facing an unprecedented crisis and the jobs and livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of people are in jeopardy.”
The correspondence, published in the Press & Journal, added: “Many of our beloved pubs are at real risk, with significantly reduced trade and increased costs as a result of questionable restrictions.
“I feel the answer to the hospitality conundrum is as follows, that the Scottish Government bans all alcohol sales in supermarkets and off-licenses, including off-sales in pubs and restaurants.
“Allow the sale of alcohol to be restricted to pubs and restaurants – this will boost local economies and safeguard thousands of jobs.”
Stuart McPhee, spokesman for the Aberdeen Hospitality Group, told the P&j the proposal had some merit.
He said: “I’m all for trialling anything. It’s as radical an idea as any.
“I’ve certainly advocated a few ideas such as shutting down premises who are not following the rules.
“We need to be working as an industry alongside the Scottish Government to find a solution, given that we’re the third-biggest employer in the country.”
The current crackdown, which closed licensed premises across the Central Belt and forced those elsewhere to serve alcohol outdoors, is to be extended for a third week.
A new plan which has yet to be confirmed will come into force on November 2.