The SNP leader introduced a raft of measures on Boxing Day, citing the emergence of the Omicron Covid variant which is believed to spread fast but be less damaging than previous strains. These included the reintroduction of table service and ‘bubbles’ at hospitality settings, limiting business capabilities at what would otherwise have been a particularly busy period.
William Lees-Jones, owner of JW Lees pubs, responded furiously, barring the First Minister from his establishments “for life”.
He said the restrictions would hit hospitality business – already struggling after almost two years of various levels of restrictions – hard and could even force some venues to close permanently.
The businessman told Manchester Evening News (MEN): “The reshuffling of bookings and New Year, that’s going to send some businesses over the edge.”
He added that the restrictions were not only damaging but also did not make sense.
Mr Lees-Jones said: “From a public service perspective, if you don’t have people congregating in public houses, people will meet at home. That’s much more dangerous for public health.”
Ms Sturgeon is not the only leader to have received a strong response from Mr Lees-Jones.
Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford has also been slapped with a lifetime ban from all JW Lees pubs.
Since Boxing Day, only a maximum of six people are allowed to meet in pubs and other hospitals venues in Wales.
READ MORE: Falklands governor launches furious attack on Boris
He told MEN: “We have people who are public servants or journalists who are saying things that are putting people’s businesses at risk.”
Scotland’s new rules will last for at least three weeks.
They also impact football, with games being limited to 500 fans.
Protesting the measures on December 22, a group of Celtic fans held a large sign during a match, which read: “F**k off SNP!”
The sign added: “Open your homes for COP26 but closed doors for fans.”
This refers to the SNP’s welcoming of thousands of international climate delegates to Glasgow in November for the COP26 climate conference, in contrast to the limiting of Scottish social interaction after Christmas.