A Dundee nightclub owner says the easing of coronavirus restrictions – which will allow his venues to open for the first time since March 2020 – is a “big release”.
During a Holyrood briefing on Tuesday, Nicola Sturgeon announced that the easing of most restrictions will go ahead as planned on August 9.
The first minister says curfews and social distancing will come to an end – but face masks and Test and Protect will still be required for now.
Tony Cochrane – who runs several night-time venues in the city including Club Tropicana and Aura – said: “We will make it as safe as we can – but just come back and enjoy yourself again, enjoy life.
“It’s been around 500 days of closure – it just feels like the end’s finally come. Nobody could dance for a year and a half.
‘Dancing is a natural medicine’
“Even when you have got a pandemic or something that is going on that is negative, music and dancing gives you a little bit of natural medicine – but that was taken away from people.
“It was a grave place for a long time, it’s just a big release.”
The nightclub owner says that despite being left “high and dry” in terms of funding, he and his team “have to bounce back”.
He said: “We’ve spent a life time trying to build it up, lucky thing is we have always saved for that rainy day.
“But who would have thought that rainy day would have been 500 days long?
“It’s been something personally I’ve done since forever, there’s never been a weekend when I’ve not been involved in some sort of entertainment.
“It just takes away a whole part of your life and something you enjoy and you’re passionate about.
“The staff are all ecstatic to get back to a job they enjoy, that was their life every weekend and suddenly it just stopped back in March.
“We will make the place as safe as we can because we obviously don’t want anything to happen to anyone in the venue – staff or customers.
“The only downside is the question about masks having to be worn inside – that is a strange one. Everything is as normal otherwise.”
Reaction from retailers
Andrew McRae, policy chair at the Federation of Small Businesses, says that companies will feel “a cocktail of elation and worry” following the first minister’s announcement.
He said: “Firms will be relieved that the bulk of the remaining restrictions will be lifted.
“This will give many businesses the opportunity to increase capacity, create jobs and drive growth.”
However, Mr McRae says the move will not guarantee recovery.
He added: “Operators now face trading conditions permanently changed by the crisis and new debt that they’ll need to manage in the months and years to come.
“Some business leaders are nervous that the sacrifices they’ve made will be forgotten.
Some shops may keep restrictions
Mandatory physical distancing in shops will also end on August 9, with hopes from retail bosses that it will “spark a shopping recovery”.
But Ewan MacDonald-Russell, head of policy at the Scottish Retail Consortium, says that while it should “simplify store operations”, many retailers are likely to keep some restrictions in place voluntarily to ensure safety.
He said: “Hopefully the changes for events and hospitality should give customers a good excuse to return to the high street to restock wardrobes and homes – albeit that may be tempered as there is no timeframe for workers to be encouraged back to the office.”