Loss of Easter is bitter blow

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Just when the hospitality industry thought the worst of the dark days were behind them they were hit by another devastating blow this week.

The fact that Arran’s hotels, B&Bs and self-catering accommodation are now unlikely to be open at Easter gets this year’s promise of a brighter summer season off to a very bad start indeed.

Everything seemed to be going so well. By the end of the month two third of the population on Arran will have had their first Covid vaccination and with numbers on the mainland also rapidly rising it seemed only a matter of time before the lockdown restrictions could start to be eased.

But First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is cautious and, like all through the pandemic, is likely to take things at a slower pace than Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

Ms Sturgeon says ‘staycations’ might be possible in the summer but this will depend on the Covid data nearer the time. And while all this may be prudent, it is of little comfort to those in the tourist industry desperately trying to get things going again.

Tourist bosses have made it clear that the loss of Easter is ‘a crushing blow to many’ and it will certainly be felt across Arran.

The announcement that business rates relief for retail, hospitality, leisure, and newspapers, is to be extended for a full year is welcome news for all of us, but more support may be needed if businesses are not going to be able to trade viably for months to come.

We can only hope that the end 0f lockdown can come soon enough to the give summer tourism on Arran a shot in the arm as well.