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Hospitality restrictions causing “cull on business”

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By Donald Turvill and Euan Maxwell
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Hospitality restrictions causing

HOTELS and pubs in the region continue to face huge losses to custom and income as a result of Coronavirus restrictions.

The new rules, in place until the end of next weekend, stipulate that alcoholic drinks can only be consumed outdoors, with no customers inside past 6 pm.

Abi Ritchie, owner of the Station Inn, Kirkpatrick Fleming, said the loss of evening service, the hotel’s “main money provider,” has resulted in “a cull on the business this week.”

She added that since restrictions came into place a week ago, she had seen “maybe two” people opt for an outside drink.

John, who runs the Eskdale Hotel in Langholm, said that following Nicola Sturgeon’s announcement, around 27 room cancellations were made.

“The measures have wiped out most of the business. We have an outside beer garden, but who wants to sit outside when it’s two degrees,” he said.

He has not yet furloughed his staff, but added he may have to if restrictions continue as the hotel is “struggling at the moment.”

“We’ve just not got enough hours for all the team, but we’ve got a very loyal team,” John said.

At the Sure Hotel, Lockerbie, owner Glen Wright stressed that punters don’t want to sit outside when it’s poor weather so they have can have a drink and a meal.

He added: “We’ve seen a hell of a lot less people. We’re now seeing about 65 per cent of the business we were seeing before. We had quite a number of rooms cancel when they realised that they were coming away for a leisure weekend unable to have any drinks.

“We’ve all spoken collectively and we think that they should either open us or close us, not this this halfway house. After the Eat Out to Help Out scheme, which gave all these businesses a boost, we’ve now gone into reversal. This week all the staff have been furloughed again because there’s no hours to give them.”

Meanwhile, Moffat landlady Janie Seaton believes the ruling is “quite bizarre” as she believes the hospitality sector is safer than others that remain open.

The Black Bull owner said: “Our establishment is safe so I don’t really understand why our industry is being targeted. We’re lucky we have had good custom at the weekend in our beer garden and no booking cancellations.

“If the rules are extended to four weeks then it could be devastating for the industry. I’ll never shut down but I’d have to go to plan b.”

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