Tier 3 restrictions will make things difficult for hospitality businesses during the festive season. How will they adapt and cope?
Eating out on Christmas Day has become more and more popular in recent years as people decide to let someone else do the work and relax.
Visiting a hotel or restaurant allows you to enjoy your meal without worrying about whether things will be ready on time or potentially having a dinner disaster on your hands.
However, with Tier 3/Level 3 restrictions in place in Dundee, Fife and Perth and Kinross due to the coronavirus pandemic the experience is going to be a very different one this year – for diners, hoteliers and restaurateurs.
Under Level 3 of the Scottish Government’s Covid-19 safety measures alcohol is not permitted to be sold at all in hospitality settings even when dining.
So how do restaurants and hotels intend to rise to yet another challenge?
Restrictions have hit hard
Manny Baber, general manager of Sleeperz Hotel in Dundee city centre and chairman of the Dundee and Angus Visitor Accommodation Association, said Tier 3 restrictions are having a huge impact on them.
The uncertainty of the situation allied to the ever-changing restrictions and the inability to serve alcohol are damaging for hospitality enterprises.
He said: “Since opening, we’ve enjoyed a loyal local following at Christmas and Hogmanay.
“In the past few weeks, people have booked, cancelled and rebooked and feel uncertain about the fluid nature of the restrictions and the Tier system.
“The restrictions on serving alcohol have hit us hard in terms of bookings in our lounge bar and restaurant and especially for festive celebrations.
“Guests are staying overnight but we are finding that few people want to come and eat without being able to enjoy a drink or move on to other venues after 6pm.
“While we can stay open and want to provide great hospitality and opportunity for people to enjoy themselves, it’s a challenge to break even once you consider staff costs, overheads and the additional investment required to be Covid-19 secure.
“These are tough times all round and hospitality is suffering badly as an industry. However we are hoping to welcome in a much safer and better 2021.”
Getting creative with the drinks menu
In Stonehaven, Aberdeenshire, Raj Hamid, owner of fine dining restaurant Carron to Mumbai is keeping his restaurant open for Christmas, and while he’s experienced a few booking cancellations, it has mainly been customers cancelling throughout the entire festive period that has affected his business.
He’s also introducing a range of non-alcoholic drinks to accommodate guests, including new Indian drinks.
He said: “Since the Tier announcement came into place the phone has been ringing non-stop with cancellations. It is primarily dinner reservations between Christmas and Hogmanay. On Christmas Day we’ve had three reservations cancelled and I think that may be as a result of them not being able to have drinks, or have the gathering they had hoped for.
“The staff rota has already been populated and we’ve already purchased what we need for the day with produce ordered and everything. These things don’t have long shelf life so we have to be prepared for the day.
“We’ll have non-alcoholic drinks and lots of soft drinks for guests. There will be plenty of non-alcoholic beer, wine, and other drinks for people to enjoy. We will also be serving up authentic Indian drinks, too.
“We have to be festive and give what we can give. There’s no point just cancelling everything. We want to put smiles on people’s faces and keep the festive spirit alive.”
Indoor mixing rules have been relaxed slightly allowing people to form “bubbles”.
From December 23 to December 27, inclusive, the public will be allowed to travel within the UK to spend Christmas with their loved ones in bubbles of up to eight people from three households (including your own). Children under 12 from these households aren’t counted and do not need to maintain a physical distance from others according to the government.
However, you can also only be in one Christmas bubble with two other households so be mindful of this when “bubbling” up.
And while you can still enjoy hospitality in Tier 3, you must abide by the rules in place.
Currently the rules allow for two households of up to six people to visit them, so you cannot visit with your Christmas bubble of three households up to eight people.
Keeping an eye on “bubbles” in their premises will put a great deal of responsibility on hospitality businesses, while not being able to serve any alcohol, the fizzy stuff in particular, is a definite downside for parties eating out.
In addition, while the rules have been relaxed, it is not encouraged for people to meet up with those from other households putting more of the onus on businesses.