'We're battered, we're broken, we've been through the mill, but we will not give up'

The Staff Canteen

The first minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon has set out a timeline for the easing of restrictions across Scotland, giving some tentative hope to hospitality and tourism businesses that they will be able to operate at capacity in the summer. 

From Monday, 26th April, cafés, restaurants and bars will be able to serve people outdoors until 10pm in groups of up to six from three households. Alcohol will be permitted, and there will be no requirement for food to be served.

They will be allowed to serve food and non-alcoholic drinks indoors until 8pm to groups of up to four people from no more than 2 households.

All tourist accommodation will be able to reopen in compliance with any restrictions.

Meanwhile, non-essential retail, libraries, museums, galleries and indoor gyms will also reopen on that date., and travel restrictions within Scotland will be lifted. 

The ban on non-essential international travel will remain in place until May 17th. 

View the full timetable of the easing of restrictions in Scotland here.

While some will applaud the news, others have expressed concerns that with restrictions on serving alchohol indoors in place, hospitality businesses will struggle to earn enough to justify opening, such as NTIA leader for Greater Manchester Sacha Lord:

"People will struggle to comply with restrictions that don’t make sense."

Chef Patron of the Ox and Finch Jonathan Macdonald said that while lockdown to control the virus is understandable when necessary, "meddling in the fine detail of how restaurants operate when we reopen does a lot of economic harm but evidently not a great deal to control the spread of the virus.

"There’s no evidence to say there is more of a transmission risk at 7pm than there is at 5pm for example, or if you’re having a glass of wine with your meal," adding that having restrictions "that don’t make sense," such as the rule allowing cafes to open in the autumn when restaurants were closed, "make the public lose faith in them." 

"People will struggle to comply with restrictions that don’t make sense."

Also on the curfew, chef and owner of 16 West End in St Monans, Craig Millar, said: "As far as I am aware there was no science behind that decision in the first place and an extra few hours would allow for a fairly decent dinner service as apposed to just an extended lunch service."

"If it is safe for both staff and customers, I don’t see any reason why this shouldn’t happen."

Katie O'Brien, owner and director of 21212 said that the Scottish rules put the country at a disadvantage compared to England, adding that "people looking to book to come to Scotland may think twice,  same as last summer."

In effect, going down from level 4 to level 3 in April, she said that while they will likely open for their customers' sake, they will be operating at a loss.


'It's good to see it's starting to move'

Meanwhile chef and restaurateur Tom Kitchin said: "It's good to see that it's starting to move, of course that's good news, but at the same time, there isn't clarity on when we'll be able to operate at full capacity like down South."

Not one to blame the government, he added, "That's really frustrating, because we'd like to start to plan, and so would our suppliers, but it's something, and after what we've all been through, we just need something to keep us going." 

The uncertainty is one of the difficult aspects of the first Minister's roadmap, as it makes forecasts nearby impossible.

"If I talk to my colleagues down south, they're all fully booked from 17th May. They're full and they know where they're going so they can plan for that, they've got their staff, they know where they're going. We don't have that.

What's more, to Sacha Lord's point, he added: "When we're opening our businesses with no alcohol, we're opening to make a loss - and this has a knock-on effect for paying the staff, suppliers, everything." 

"We're strong. We're battered, we're broken, we've been through the mill, but we will not give up, we will fight it tooth and nail and let's hope we can get it back to normality as soon as possible." 

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The Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 16th March 2021

'We're battered, we're broken, we've been through the mill, but we will not give up'