Hospitality fears for Christmas as industry hit by new Covid rules

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Hospitality venues were left reeling again on Arran after the latest curbs announced by the Scottish Government.

Many hotels and restaurants have already had Christmas cancellations while work continues to hastily reinstall improved distancing measures required to save what they can of the festive season.

The new rules, due to come into effect today (Friday), see the return of measures to cut down crowding in shops and at bars and physical distancing and the use of protective screens inside hospitality venues.


Businesses are also legally required to take steps to reduce the spread of Covid with cafés and other outlets still deciding what to do.

Events too were starting to be cancelled, including the Brodick children’s Christmas party this weekend – although the children can still go and see Santa – as islanders came to terms with the new three-household rule for gatherings.

Some live music at venues has already been cancelled as well.

Many Arran families enjoy big Christmas gatherings with family and friends coming over from the mainland and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has insisted festivities on Christmas Day, as well as Christmas Eve and Boxing Day, can go ahead and churches will remain open for services.


But Ms Sturgeon has said that people should try to keep their festive celebrations ‘as small as your family circumstances allow’.

She added that while the guidelines on social mixing will not be legally enforceable ‘please do not think of it as optional’.

CBI Scotland said urgent clarity was needed on what physical distancing and crowd control requirements meant in practise during the busiest time of the year for restaurants, pubs and shops.

Tracy Black, CBI Scotland director, said: ‘While it’s right to continue prioritising public health, the Scottish Government must show the same urgency in addressing the economic consequences of Omicron.

‘It’s vital that government now works closely with affected industries to get financial support where it’s needed most, particularly as restrictions limit firms’ ability to trade their way to recovery.

‘While the government hasn’t gone so far as to explicitly shut down certain sectors, new guidance on household mixing will inevitably impact firms banking on a bumper festive period.

‘As seen in the hospitality sector, with a large number of cancellations already reported, the danger is of suppressing confidence, demand and ultimately profitability.’

Ms Sturgeon last week said that Scotland was facing a ‘likely tsunami’ of new infections of Covid-19 in the weeks ahead, with a ‘very significant’ impact on health services.

The Scottish Government will provide £100m of funding to help businesses in hospitality and food supply chains which have been hit by the new rules.

 

Restaurant kitchens, like this one,  still hoping to be busy over Christmas. NO-F12-Kian-Cameron-01.jpg