Glasgow faces ‘difficult balance’ between helping businesses during COP26 and fighting Covid-19

Glasgow will try to find a “difficult balance” between helping “businesses to thrive” during COP26 and preventing the spread of Covid-19.

Glasgow’s licensing board will decide whether to extend trading hours during COP26 when it meets next week.

The city’s licensing board will decide whether to extend trading hours during the United Nations climate conference when it meets next week.

Around 30,000 delegates are expected to arrive in Glasgow from October 31 for the key summit, and the council is working with organisers to support the movement of visitors in the city.

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Denise Hamilton, from the council’s neighbourhoods and sustainability team, said they hoped the event would “benefit our hospitality and licensed trade”.

Speaking at a local licensing forum meeting, she said Covid protocols to support delegate movement in the city were being worked on.

“It’s about a balance between protecting the city and allowing the city to benefit from having this influx of people looking to enjoy our hospitality and shops,” she said.

“That work is ongoing just now, it’s not concluded, and we will be coming back to businesses to have a chat to see if it would be reasonable what we’re proposing.”

The council officer added: “Whatever the regulations are in Glasgow, that’s what will be applied in Glasgow and there will be enhanced measures to deal with the delegates who are travelling in from other countries.”

“We want Glasgow to benefit from having COP in the city, but we also want to ensure that our businesses and residents are not put at risk.”

COP26 will take place at the SEC campus from October 31 to November 12.

Ms Hamilton said the UK Government has got “significant plans” in place, including daily testing of delegates. Vaccination and quarantine protocols are also being finalised.

Work is ongoing on protocols to support delegate movement in the city, she said. Visitors will receive a pack prior to arrival which will “advise on the correct measures and protocols if they are going outwith the event campus itself”.

Nightclub owner Donald MacLeod, who chairs the forum, said he worried visitors wouldn’t be able to come into the city with “these protocols in place, and that is going to be detrimental to businesses”.

“There are 30,000 delegates coming in. We all want to benefit from it, I’m sure the whole city wants that to happen.”

Ms Hamilton said: “We can’t just let them move freely, we need to ensure that there are some controls and how we work on that, bearing in mind people are at a conference.

“We’ve all been to conferences and we all know how difficult it is to chain people to their hotel room, so it is that balance and it is difficult.

“We do also want the city to be jumping at COP time, we want businesses to thrive during COP, so it’s a difficult balance.”

A report will go to the city’s licensing board next Friday on whether to grant a general extension to licensed hours “in connection with a special event” of “national significance”.

The board can choose to apply an extension to all premises and premises meeting certain criteria.