Under-pressure hospitality businesses have been hit with another broadside with the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s announcement that current opening restrictions are to continue until at least November 2.
Bars and restaurants have been operating in extremely difficult circumstances for almost two weeks since the latest curbs on trading were revealed.
Currently, venues can only serve alcohol outdoors until 10pm, while restaurants cannot serve any alcohol indoors and can only serve food inside their premises until 6pm.
These restrictions, which came into force on October 9, have seen many businesses close for good, while others have taken the decision to close temporarily, mainly due to the lack of any outdoor space.
And this follows hard on the heels of the three-month lockdown from which many bars and restaurants simply did not survive.
Revealing that terms of the new tiered system of restrictions, which will come into effect on November 2, will be made public on Friday, the first minister said: “We now have a short-term decision to make over the temporary restrictions and I can confirm that following a meeting of the cabinet this morning, we have decided to extend these for a week.
“I must stress this is a public health decision – the clinical advice we are getting is that it is not safe to lift them as early as Monday and they will continue until Monday November 2, to allow a smoother transition into the new tiered system.
“The rule of not being able to visit people in other households remains in place also.”
The Stag’s Head Bar in Carnoustie is very much your traditional watering hole with its key drivers being live music and other events such as Halloween parties, pool, darts, and dominoes. Of course, none of this is happening at the present time and they also do not do a food offering.
They put in a number of measures after they were allowed to reopen in the summer, including taking customers’ details, socially distanced seating, a one-way system and screening the bar area from patrons.
Jackie Johnston Liddell, who runs the Stag which has a small area at the rear and the Crown Inn in Monifieth which has no outdoor space, said: “It’s just a nightmare.
“I am not very happy about this with it being another week now.
“I was meant to be doing orders yesterday and I just didn’t bother because I thought ‘I don’t think we are going to be open’. That’s my problem, we don’t know whether to order stuff in or not order stuff in. I can only get a delivery once a week.
“I have got the Stag open Friday, Saturday, Sunday from 2pm until 8pm which was OK the first weekend and last weekend I suppose as well, but nowhere near as good as it would be if we were able to sit inside.
“And I have spent a fortune on gazebos, chimineas, and firepits, stuff like that, just to get people to come in.
“I have also spent a fortune on sanitisers and all the other stuff I have had to get in when we were open inside just trying to keep open and keep people here.
“It’s difficult just keeping the doors open and the Crown has been shut since the 9th because there is no outdoor space. You still have to pay your overheads – you still have to pay water bills, everything has to be paid whether you’re open or closed.”
Popular Fife chef Dean Banks took to social media last night to relay his dismay at the restrictions and the situation, by voicing that applying for the Scottish Government’s funding “makes me feel sick”.
Applying for the fund from scotgov makes me feel sick. I would prefer for me to close my business and have staff back on furlough and we sit tight. With restrictions, curfew and alcohol bans we are being left to bleed dry and no help.
— ChefDeanBanks (@banks_chef) October 20, 2020
— ChefDeanBanks (@banks_chef) October 20, 2020
The Scottish Licensed Trade Association (SLTA) has also expressed “extreme disappointment” at the decision by the Scottish Government to extend current restrictions on hospitality across Scotland ahead of the “tier” approach to local lockdowns that is expected to be introduced on November 2.
Paul Waterson, media spokesman for the SLTA, said: “We expected this so we are not surprised. However, yet again there has been no consultation with the industry and as we said earlier this month, we believe these measures to be cataclysmic for hospitality operators.
“Hundreds of businesses are facing permanent closure and with that thousands of jobs will be lost – the damage could be irreparable.”
A recent survey highlighted that nearly 40% of hospitality businesses were considering closure or business exit.
And in September, an SLTA survey of 600 on-trade premises highlighted that within the pub and bar sector, 12,500 jobs could go.
Mr Waterson added: “We estimate that two-thirds of hospitality businesses could be mothballed or go under in the coming months. Over 50% of jobs in the pub and bar sector could also be lost which will have a particularly deep impact on the employment of young people as over 40% of staff employed are under the age of 25.”
Reiterating that responsible operators continue to run safe, carefully monitored establishments, he continued: “Our industry is in serious trouble and it is only going to get worse. The £40 million financial support package is nowhere near enough to save jobs and prevent operators from going under. And once again we do not have details of other financial help promised by the Scottish Government.
“Yet again it is the licensed trade that is suffering and the current measures affect not just our industry but the wider economy. We are extremely disappointed.”
And it’s not just the industry that is feeling the pressure with the public now looking for answers from the Scottish Government.
Mark Mitchell wrote “So Nicola Sturgeon the 16 day reset that your government communicated to the Scottish population was a lie?”
— Mark Mitchell (@balmediecats) October 21, 2020