A PUB chain owner has declared Nicola Sturgeon is banned from his venues due to her government’s Covid restrictions – despite the fact his company has no pubs in Scotland.

William Lees-Jones, the boss of JW Lees which primarily runs pubs in the north of England, declared that due to the coronavirus restrictions in Scotland and Wales both Sturgeon and Welsh FM Mark Drakeford would be “barred”.

In a tweet, he also declared that a number of Sage members, including Susan Michie, and journalist Robert Peston would not be allowed into the venues.

Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have all brought in tighter Covid regulations due to the fast-spreading Omicron variant leading to record case numbers.

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For example nightclubs have been closed, distancing and table service rules brought back in and big events have been called off, while people are urged to limit their social contacts.

England has decided to take no such measures, with Sajid Javid announcing on Monday that restrictions would go no further than the current Plan B system.

Business representatives welcomed the news but argued more needs to be done to support them as Covid has led to a sharp drop in trade despite the lack of official measures.

Public health expert Professor Andrew Watterson of Stirling University warned on Monday morning that England is now “out of step” with the rest of the UK, with “muddled” messaging there causing confusion.

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In the Manchester Evening news, pub owner Lees-Jones accused Scotland and Wales of having “locked down unnecessarily quickly” – despite the restrictions barely resembling a lockdown. He did not mention the measures in Northern Ireland, where nightclubs are shut, indoor standing events are banned, and just six people are allowed to be sat together in hospitality settings.

“If you look at the situation in London, it would appear to be more advanced than either Scotland or Wales – and as a business, we're particularly exposed to Wales. The reshuffling of bookings and New Year, that's going to send some businesses over the edge,” the businessman said.

He went on: “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.

“Similarly with Robert Peston [below]. Whenever he asks a question, it's 'why haven't you shut the pubs?' It's because they're safe.

The National:

“We have people who are public servants or journalists who are saying things that are putting people's businesses at risk.

JW Lees has 150 pubs across the north-west of England and Wales.

Meanwhile in Scotland, the Christmas period has seen the highest number of Covid-19 cases in Scotland since the start of the pandemic.

On December 25, 8252 cases were recorded, with 11,030 positive tests recorded on December 26 and 10,562 on December 27.

The First Minister said she expects case numbers will rise further over the next few days and urged people to limit socialising in person “as much as possible”.