COVID-19, licensed premises and ambulance-call outs (Stirling)

The University of Stirling will lead 10 major projects investigating the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic after receiving almost £500,000 in funding from the Scottish Government. Led by SPECTRUM Deputy Director, Professor Niamh Fitzgerald, one of these projects will examine policy options for reopening pubs, nightclubs and restaurants to minimise the impact on ambulance services, and to protect customers and staff from the virus.


The study – set to complete within six months – will build on data and preparatory work for two other projects; ‘The impact of minimum unit pricing on ambulance callouts in Scotland’, a study also funded by the Scottish Government’s Chief Scientist Office, and a proposed study, ‘Evaluating later or expanded premises hours for alcohol in the night-time economy’, both supported by Scottish Ambulance Service.

Read the announcement from the University of Stirling


  • To explore policy options to manage the impact of Covid-19 restrictions on licensed premises and ambulance-call outs in Scotland


  • To explore options for managing/staggering the lifting of restrictions to minimise pressure on services, and infection control/social distancing practices/innovation in licensed venues.
  • Assess the impact of current restrictions on ambulance service callouts as well as the potential impact on the service should establishments reopen.
  • To consider the way consumers and venues respond to any easing of restrictions – in terms of business practices, drinking behaviour and social distancing.

Outputs and Impact

The study will objectively examine a wide range of perspectives from the licensed trade and other stakeholders, and present the emerging evidence to Scottish Government to inform their thinking on easing restrictions.

Publications and Briefings

Managing COVID-19 Transmission Risks in Bars: An Interview and Observation Study. Niamh Fitzgerald, Isabelle Uny, Ashley Brown, Douglas Eadie, Allison Ford, Jim Lewsey, and Martine Stead. Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs 2021 82:1, 42-54.

Managing COVID-19 transmission risks in bars: insights for policymakers and practitioners

Further details


University of Stirling

University of Glasgow

Key people

Niamh Fitzgerald – University of Stirling

Martine Stead – University of Stirling

Jim Lewsey – University of Glasgow

Isabelle Uny -  University of Stirling

Ashley Brown -  University of Stirling


Scottish Government – Chief Scientist’s Office