Masterchef finalist Dean Banks has admitted he shed a tear when the UK Government today announced that workers will continue to be paid despite the mandatory closure of all bars, restaurants and clubs due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Arbroath-born chef, who rose to fame as a finalist on ‘Masterchef: The Professionals’, said Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s commitment that employers would be able to apply to HM Revenue and Customs to cover 80% of the wages of staff they keep on up to £2,500 a month during the crisis, was like a weight being lifted from his shoulders.
Mr Banks, owner of St Andrews restaurant Haar, which employs 15 staff, added that he would make up the additional shortfall in salary, in a show of loyalty for his team.
But he admitted the coronavirus crisis had inevitably put massive pressures on business owners and made for, what he called, a “scary time” for all those within the industry.
“I was hoping it would be good news as far as staff wages were concerned but this announcement of 80% is way better than I had anticipated and will go a long way to safeguarding a great many jobs,” said Mr Banks.
“I’ll admit a shed a tear when it was announced and was a little overwhelmed with emotion, it’s a huge relief.
Mr Banks said he had anticipated the forced closure announcement adding that he agreed that everyone had to do whatever necessary to help in the drive to slow the spread of the virus.
“But that is balanced with the fact that we have people’s livelihoods at stake too,” he said.
“We are lucky that we have had a successful first year and that’s why I’ve committed to making up that other 20% to repay the loyalty that my team has shown me.
“I fully appreciate that not every business can afford to do that but I really hope that those that can will do the same.
“It’s already been such a difficult time for pubs, restaurants and the like but since the coronavirus situation it’s has become such a scary time for everyone.”
For Angelika Milano, whose family own the popular Ciao Sorrento Italian restaurant in Dundee, the closure announcement was also anticipated.
She said: “We’ve been preparing for it, so while it’s dramatic and affects so many thousands of workers and businesses, it wasn’t a surprise.
“As we are a family run business our staff numbers are low but the news that 80% of salaries will be met is a welcome move.
“We have had to look at ways of supplementing or diversifying our service which is why we offer delivery and collection for our customers between certain hours.
“We had already committed to support our staff and while the uncertainty over how long this will last is a concern for everyone, we are glad workers will be paid.”
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