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More help is needed, say hospitality bosses

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By Nick Dowson
More help is needed, say hospitality bosses

LOCAL hospitality businesses are adapting once again to a new covid situation after Nicola Sturgeon announced extra guidelines asking people to limit meetings to three households.

Publicans and cafe owners say they are doing what they can to keep everyone safe but need more government support, as the First Minister said more emphasis would be placed on collecting details for track and trace.

Protective screens are also being recommended and the announcement came shortly after last week’s request for Christmas parties to be “deferred”.

Stephen Montgomery, owner of Lockerbie’s Townhead Hotel and the Jolly Harvester in Dumfries, said the £100m in financial support announced by Sturgeon “covered wholesale and culture as well as hospitality and it’s nowhere near enough to cover the last five days. You would need to add another zero to that to even begin to respond.”

He said: “In the Scottish Hospitality Group we have done a survey and that shows an average £65,000 of loss in December.

“On top of support for that we need a furlough scheme again to protect staff – for all this talk about businesses there is also the impact for staff, their mental health.”

He said his venues had had quite a few cancellations, particularly since Tuesday.

“We still have the distance between tables and we still have booths to keep the separation. What we have seen is a drop off in accommodation bookings over the last three to four days.

“The key messages are hospitality remains open, we rely on local custom but also take lateral flows, wear a mask, help us to stay open and save our staff jobs.

“We need everybody to do the right thing, let’s get through this together and look forwards to a much better 2022. We don’t want another Cinderella Christmas like last year.”

Steph Rogerson, of the Quarter Cake Cafe in Annan, said Christmas party nights had been quieter but she was “not surprised” by the guidelines.

She added: “It’s a shame because I’d like to think that after two years we would be on the other side, coming out of this but we are nowhere near that.

“People are not wanting to go out and enjoy themselves because they are scared of catching covid and spoiling Christmas.”

“With the three households rule all we can do is adapt,” Lisa Avey, director at the Powfoot Hotel told the paper.

She said the hotel had also seen a couple of cancellations of bigger tables from corporate customers already but added: “We are not worried so far. I think people have to be sensible and we all have to respect the guidelines, so we will all be ok and we will still have Christmas.

“People just have to wear face masks, sanitise their hands and do track and trace but we are doing that already.”

Dumfries and West, Front

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