Hotel, bar and restaurant owners have been voicing their concern over reports that Scotland could be about to face even tougher restrictions in an effort to control the surge in coronavirus cases.
She is expected to announce shortly whether a so-called “circuit-breaker” could be introduced this month. Interventions could include tighter controls on or even the closure of pubs and restaurants.
Speaking on the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland programme, Stephen Leckie who is chair of the Scottish Tourism Alliance and owner of the Crieff Hydro Hotel, said reports of a “circuit breaker” shutdown made for “extremely harrowing reading for anyone involved in this industry”.
He added: “The next three weeks is our only chance to make any sort of money before the year end so any form of travel restriction would in effect be a lockdown for those in this industry. If we had to close from this week to the end of this month, for example, we’d walk from the frying pan straight into the fire starting from November and for the following five months our businesses would lose money and many just wouldn’t reopen next week. This is extremely harrowing reading for anyone involved in this industry.
“Whenever there is an announcement on television there are cancellations. There’s a consumer confidence issue, people are nervous, they’re concerned, and some do cancel across the board.
“If we were to lockdown this Friday, we have our rotas seven days in advance, we cannot simply say to our people – and there will be 700 people working this weekend across our country – we can’t say, ‘We’re locking down, we can’t pay you, we don’t need you to come into work’.
“The second side of it is, to pay 1,000/2,000 customers back the deposits they’d placed with us in trust costs money, administration clerks on the phone, trying to figure out GDPR and going through the credit card bookings and so on. It’s a mammoth amount of work to pay money back.
“Surely there must be other levers we can pull in order to restrict the spread of this virus.”
Nicholas Russell, managing director of Balbirnie House hotel in Fife, tweeted he believed a two-week lockdown “will surely be catastrophic” without financial support measures.
Not quite 'getting this' …
If this is the case, it will surely be catastrophic.
— MD/ Balbirnie House (@BalbirnieHouse) October 6, 2020
Colin Hanson, manager of Ferrari’s Sports Bar in Dundee, told the Evening Telegraph that businesses would struggle to reopen if told to shut their doors again.
He said: “This circuit breaker idea feels almost as if the Scottish Government haven’t planned ahead.
“As a business we would certainly struggle to reopen and two weeks money is a massive amount right now.
“I can understand the logic of what they’re trying to do, but personally I think that it comes down to being less complacent when people go out or see each other. A little more information from the Scottish Government would be nice too.
“We would struggle to reopen if more restrictions were introduced, definitely. Would it be impossible? No. But we would definitely struggle with it.”
Last week, celebrity chef Nick Nairn added his voice to those in the hospitality industry criticising tougher restrictions, questioning whether there was data to demonstrate bars and restaurants were a significant factor in the surge of cases.
Can anyone confirm ,of the 1.9m Scots who have dined our since lockdown end, how many have contracted Covid as a result. According to the Scottish hospitality group it’s…….17. #endthecurfew
— Nick Nairn (@NickNairn) October 2, 2020
Stuart McPhee, who runs Aberdeen’s Siberia bar and is a spokesperson for the Aberdeen Hospitality Together group, which formed in the wake of the local lockdown imposed on the city in August, also fears this will be the nail in the coffin for some businesses.
Hearing this all too often myself, can’t plan for anything ever. This will push people over the edge and the economy and businesses we know and love as will be destroyed https://t.co/tq2kRgNOUS
— Stuart McPhee (@stuartmcphee19) October 3, 2020
James Withers, chief executive of Scotland Food and Drink, also said hospitality businesses are struggling to plan ahead for the next two weeks and are facing “huge uncertainty.”
I thought we may get announcement on new restrictions today. @GlennBBC signalling it’s likely tomorrow. Hospitality businesses struggling to plan for next 2 weeks. Order stock, don’t order? Supply chain – and many food/drink cos – facing huge uncertainty. A fearful time. https://t.co/DEjyrFJZrA
— James Withers (@scotfoodjames) October 6, 2020
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