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Local business owners relieved as lifting of several restrictions brings hope to the hospitality industry

Howard Airhumwunde owner of club AfroBeats in Dundee.
Howard Airhumwunde owner of club AfroBeats in Dundee.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon today announced the lifting of several restrictions that have been negatively impacting the hospitality industry.

During a December briefing, Ms Sturgeon announced that all indoor and outdoor public events were to have a cap on numbers from December 26 for three weeks due to concern over the Omicron surge.

This meant that sports matches, including football, were effectively spectator-free and large-scale Hogmanay celebrations did not proceed.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon delivers a Covid-19 update
Nicola Sturgeon.

Restrictions were reintroduced in hospitality settings serving alcohol for consumption on the premises, including a requirement for one-metre distancing and table service only.

The first minister also advised that no more than three households should meet at indoor public places at one time.

However, these measures are to be lifted from Monday January 24, which has come as welcome news to hospitality bosses in Dundee and surrounding areas.

Nightclub businesses are excited

Speaking to owner Howard Airhumwunde, of AfroBeats, he felt excited hearing the news and is looking forward to Monday for both the business and his customers.

He commented: “We are very optimistic. It’s been almost a month and a half since the restrictions were put in place and it’s been damaging to our business.

“Covid has really affected us because it feels like we have been physically targeted. We cannot plan ahead or organise our financial focus, and it has also affected our staff as well because it reduced our work rate.”

Howard Airhumwunde owner of club Afro Beats in Dundee.

When discussing table service he explained it has been a “disaster” and “impractical” to try and adjust as it is not part of their business model, adding that today’s announcement is a “big weight off our shoulders.”

In regards to isolation, Howard hopes the move will reduce the struggles staff are experiencing with the whole team having to isolate at times.

“We are looking forward to it and for everyone to have a good time in a safe environment,” Howard said.

Tony Cochrane, owner of Club Tropicana & Venga Dundee, commented: “It’s good to hear but I think the restrictions were held a week too long. There was no way they could continue. There was no data or evidence to show it.”

He continued: “The fact that they opened up sports last week, it had to be done. So obviously we are happy, but we are not happy to have been closed all this time.”

With the restrictions on isolation, Tony said: “Anything that helps people get out and about is good for us.”

This is the response he hopes to receive in both his Dundee and Aberdeen venues in the coming weeks.

Tony Cochrane.

Bars and pubs at full capacity

The feeling of relief spread across the hospitality industry, with many pubs and bars being equally happy about the decision.

Speaking with David Taylor, manager of The Bank Bar & Beer Garden in Perth, he said: “I am over the moon with the announcement, I cannot wait to go back to normal bar service.

“I cannot wait for nightclubs to be open again and from our business point of view, what she has said today is absolutely amazing.

“Obviously, the restrictions have been hard, we have still encouraged customers to use the table service and the app to order. It’s just been more and more restrictions on hospitality.”

The Bank Bar in Perth.

He continued: “The big advantage for us is being able to use our outdoor seating area as we can sit 200 outdoors and 100 indoors.”

David feels the reduced restrictions on table service will ease the pressure for staff and allow for a more relaxed environment of being able to order from the bar.

Another restaurant that feels this easing will help with bringing back customers is The Post Office Bar in Broughty Ferry.

Supervisor Kyle Dunsmore commented: “We have a lot of customers who come in and watch the sports. They like to sit at the bar and obviously due to the restrictions beforehand it wasn’t allowed. We lost quite a lot of business as a result.

The Bank Bar manager, David Taylor.

“Especially with the Six Nations starting up in a couple of weeks, it will probably pick up again quite significantly. I think people want their freedom.”

With regards to table service, Kyle felt there could be a “positive and negative effect on the customers”, with some people preferring it.

However, he also thinks waiting times will be reduced with customers being able to order at the bar, and help workers with serving due to their limited capacity.

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