Holyrood officials say they will work to ensure a Perthshire hotel can access vital Covid-19 funding after its owner warned it was on the brink of closure.
Stewart McTaggart, owner of the Alyth Hotel, set up a new business to take over the venue on December 16.
But Scottish Government rules at the time stated that firms must have been registered by December 8 to be eligible for grant support.
Mr McTaggart claims he has since been unable to access any of the funding, leading to a warning that his business could shut if he does not get cash soon.
‘I won’t be able to afford my staff’
He said: “It’s an incredibly scary time. I am very concerned that I will have to shut my doors permanently due to the lack of funding.
“If this gets any worse I won’t be able to afford to keep my staff on.
“That’s my biggest concern here, I need to pay them, but then there’s the utilities.
“I spoke to my energy company and they told me to just take a payment holiday. But what about after that ends?
“How am I expected to afford to pay my staff and keep the lights on?
“I am aware that I am a small fish in a big pond, but this is terrifying. The prospect of closure is looking very real.”
Hospitality firms have been subject to tighter restrictions since Christmas, including one-metre distancing and table service only, with a message to stay at home as much as possible due to concerns over the Omicron variant.
How am I going to survive this year if the rules around help don’t change?
The first minister confirmed on Tuesday that those rules will remain in place until at least January 24, despite other restrictions on large gatherings being removed next week.
Industry leaders claim firms are being “left in limbo” by the move.
Four members of staff have already been let go at the Alyth Hotel as the firm has struggled for custom.
Mr McTaggart added: “With the restrictions and guidance that are currently in place, I have to have more members of staff on shift to cover them.
“I have had to spend so much on PPE, hand sanitiser and other measures to keep us safe. We have really been following the rules strictly and have been left in the dark.
“It makes me scared and sad, we are absolutely doing our best over here and we have been dropped.
“How am I going to survive this year if the rules around help don’t change?
“It will cost the government less in the long run to help us, rather than me closing down and having staff claiming benefits.
“The help needs to be changed so we don’t have to close our doors for good.”
Business support grants available
The Courier contacted the government and Perth and Kinross Council about the Alyth Hotel’s situation, and Holyrood chiefs now say they will look at the case.
A page detailing how firms can access funding now states that they must have been trading by December 20, a change from a few days ago.
A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Businesses should apply for the December and January business support top-up through their local authority, making clear any relevant circumstances.
Scottish Government officials will engage with the council concerned to resolve this particular case
“Eligibility criteria set out in the guidance includes that this fund covers hotels with bars and restaurants.
“It also notes that local authorities can request additional evidence to determine eligibility like receipts or bank statements.
“Scottish Government officials will engage with the council concerned to resolve this particular case.”