A Perthshire hotel owner has had to let four of his staff go and fears for the future of his business due to coronavirus restrictions.
Stewart McTaggart, 33, owner of the Alyth Hotel, Bar and Restaurant, has closed his premises until January, following a raft of Christmas cancellations.
It is normally the busiest time of the year in hospitality but the Scottish Government asked businesses to postpone festive parties in a bid to slow the spread of Covid-19.
Every Christmas booking the hotel had received was cancelled, leaving Stewart worried about how to keep his business afloat.
Stewart said: “Everything is very uncertain at the minute and frankly it is scary.
“We are struggling and my number one concern is for my staff and keeping them in a job.
“I have sadly had to let four members of staff go, and I am trying my best to avoid any more losses.
We need government support now, not just if a lockdown comes into place.
Stewart McTaggart, owner of the Alyth Hotel.
“We are one of the only public house in the Alyth community and we are really just trying to hang on at the moment.
“We need government support now, not just if a lockdown comes into place. Frankly, if a lockdown happens I am not sure where we can go.”
Stewart says he has done everything he can to make his premises as safe as possible.
This includes swapping the restaurant and bar areas, to make it easier to keep people distanced.
But more hospitality restrictions were announced on Tuesday, during a coronavirus briefing by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.
This includes a return to table service only for premises selling alcohol, and a minimum one-metre distance between groups.
Advice to keep social meetings indoors to a maximum of three households remains, though this is guidance and not a legal obligation.
‘We are just taking each day as it comes’
With so much uncertainty, Stewart said he is growing more concerned for his staff by the day.
Stewart added: “All I care about is my staff getting paid, rent and bills are second to this. We really need help if we are to make it through this.
“I have been avoiding ordering more stock because we have had to waste so much in the past with restrictions changing so quickly.
“It has gotten to a point where I have had to make cuts, cutting staff hours, the whole thing to try and make this work.
“My priority is keeping everyone in a job and at this point that is all I can think about.
“We are just taking each day as it comes, and hoping that things get better.”
At the coronavirus briefing on Tuesday, the First Minister said the new measures are necessary to slow the spread of the new Omicron variant.
“This is not a choice between protecting health and protecting the economy,” she said.
“If we don’t stem the spread of the virus, both health and the economy will suffer.
“We must act quickly and get ahead of the data if we can.”