New coronavirus restrictions were met with dismay across Tayside and Fife’s hospitality sector, with one pub landlord claiming the additional measures would “cripple” the industry.
Angry bar owners accused the Scottish Government of unfairly targeting the industry in the fight against Covid-19.
Francesca Henderson, who runs the Hillend Tavern in Dalgety Bay, said she is considering closing the premises during the increased restrictions.
“We’ll make a final decision based on what support is going to be made available and whether it is viable to remain open,” she said.
The Hillend Tavern does not serve food and has an outdoor sheltered area big enough for 12 people.
She said: “If somebody comes in on their own, that’s one table gone.
“Whether it’s viable to remain open, we very much doubt it.”
Ms Henderson said while she understood the first minister had to take action to drive down the Covid-19 infection rate, she believed the restrictions could have been more localised.
She told The Courier: “I think Fife as a whole has not been impacted as much as other areas, yet we’re all being targeted.”
In Perthshire, landlords also called for more localised measures to tackle the virus.
Kenny Fraser, landlord of the Ericht Alehouse in Blairgowrie, received the news the same week he was crowned Tayside Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) Pub of the Year.
He said that while he understands the Scottish Government restrictions, businesses have been “hit hard”.
He said: “We are fighting a nasty virus at the moment so I am behind what they are trying to do.
“I think restrictions could have been more localised. There is more social distancing going on out here than in the cities.
“Businesses have been hit hard. We are getting maybe 20% of what we usually do.”
Others were more critical of the new controls.
Judith Gillan, who owns Brechin’s City Royal Bar, branded the new rules “worse than a complete shutdown”.
“I honestly don’t know what to think and where this will take us,” she said.
“We don’t do evening meals and we don’t have an outside area so we might just about be able to keep going with lunches, but this seems so much worse than being closed down.
“If they did that then there might have to be some support, but they have left us open with no real chance of making it easy for people to want to come in.”
‘Uncertainty over the future is killing me’
Willie Cunningham, owner of The Crown Tavern in Kinghorn, claimed the measures were “crippling”.
His business is a traditional pub relying on beer and whisky sales and does not serve food.
He added: “I’m having sleepless nights, and have been for weeks. It’s just horrendous.
“We’re just a small, family-run business, and have no beer garden or anything.
“At least the staff will still be able to get paid, but the uncertainty over the future is just killing me.”
He said pub owners who had gone “above and beyond” to follow the rules around Covid-19 were being penalised.
“I think it’s ridiculous. Yet again, pubs seem to be the scourge on society,” said Mr Cunningham.
‘We can’t survive on four wee tables outside’
Jackie Nicoll, co-owner of McDaniel’s on Whitehall Crescent in Dundee, said they will be closing on Friday for two weeks in the wake of the bombshell.
“We can’t survive on just the four wee tables we have outside,” she said.
“And with the weather Scotland gets, no one is going to want to sit outside in October anyway. I am a bit disappointed but we have just got to follow the rules.
“Hopefully the financial help announced will be good enough. We’ll have to look at that.
“We can’t survive without our doors open. I do think the pub trade is being targeted – without a shadow of a doubt.”
At The Royal Bar in Perth, one member of staff called the new restrictions “crazy”.
They said: “There is nothing we can do.
“It causes more problems in beer gardens with more people standing about.
“With pubs we can control how many people we let in. It’s crazy.”
‘It’s brilliant that we’re getting financial help’
Some landlords were slightly more optimistic following Ms Sturgeon’s announcement, which does not ask for a full shutdown of the sector as seen in the Central Belt.
Julie Lewis, of The Adamson in St Andrews, said she was just happy pubs and restaurants were not being asked to close completely.
She said she and her team were now focusing on what they were allowed to do rather than what they were not.
“My thought process yesterday was about how I could close the business down again for the next two or three weeks and I was hoping and praying that wasn’t going to happen,” she said.
“I didn’t want to have to tell my team, who have worked so hard within the strict laws we already have.”
Ms Lewis said they had already decided to open at 8am, four hours earlier than normal, and offer a brunch menu.
She added: “My thoughts are, we’re not going into lockdown so let’s deal with it and focus on what we can do.
“I also think it’s brilliant that we’re getting financial help as it means I can start thinking about how to support the team.”
Angus Conservative councillor Braden Davy blamed the further restrictions on the lack of action taken by the government on Greater Glasgow.
The council’s economic development spokesman said: “Rural Scotland is being punished because the first minister refused to take action on Glasgow which she happily took on Aberdeen.
“Angus has 30.5 cases per 100,000, in Glasgow it is over 220.
“Make no mistake, jobs will be lost and local businesses will close because Angus is being painted with Glasgow’s brush.”
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