Hospitality businesses across Aberdeenshire say moving into Tier 3 restrictions due to the region’s recent spike in coronavirus cases would be “crushing”.
If the harsh tier three rules are imposed on bars, restaurants and cafes in Aberdeenshire, they will have to close their venues to customers at 6pm, and no alcohol can be served for consumption on-site.
Under the current tier two guidelines, hospitality premises can stay open until 8pm indoors and 10.30pm outdoors, and alcohol can be served with meals inside.
Sam Masson, manager of family-run The Captain’s Table seafood restaurant in Fraserburgh, said the business has lost seven members of staff since March and now has just four employees.
She said hospitality-specific curbs enforced earlier this year, where venues had to shut by 6pm and alcohol was not allowed inside even with food, was “very damaging” to the restaurant’s income.
If we get put in Tier 3, we’ll just have to keep going because at the end of the day we have people’s jobs at stake.”
Sam Masson of The Captain’s Table
The restaurateur said: “Since the regulation changed, 8pm is workable and people are enjoying coming out for a glass of wine with a meal.
“When we couldn’t serve alcohol, people were telling us they would rather put off visiting until they could have some wine, a beer, or a gin and tonic with their meal.
“So not being able to serve drinks and the 6pm cut-off devastated us to be honest.
“Our income has already been reduced by 50% just because we have had to reduce the number of tables we have, but we saw a dramatic drop of around 75% downturn when we had to shut by 6pm.
“If we get put in tier three, we’ll just have to keep going because at the end of the day we have people’s jobs at stake.
“We adhere to all the regulations with spacing, screening, hand-sanitising and everything, so to be kicked back to tier three after all of this would be crushing.”
‘Why are we getting punished?’
Marc Dawson, owner of the Creel Inn in Catterline, argued against a pan-Aberdeenshire imposition of the tougher rules.
According to data from Public Health Scotland, his business is in an area of the county where the seven-day rate per 100,000 people is fewer than 15 virus cases.
He said: “Financially, it probably wouldn’t be viable to stay open as a restaurant so we would probably have to shut for a period.
“Aberdeenshire is a vast area. We’re just on the cusp of Angus, and if the main problems are happening up in Buchan, why are we getting punished?
“And if Aberdeen doesn’t go into this level but Aberdeenshire does, we’re much further away from Buchan than Aberdeen is, so I don’t see how that makes sense.”
You don’t want to be in a situation where you’re limited in your trading, but there’s a global pandemic. Above anything else, our highest priority is the safety of the community.”
Angus Upton of Farquharson’s Bar and Kitchen
Angus Upton, manager of Farquharson’s Bar and Kitchen in Braemar, added: “Tier three restrictions are obviously not ideal for business, however the number of people I’ve had in the last few weeks coming from areas under harsher restrictions who should not be here, but are still coming as we’re in a lower-tiered area, is quite frankly unsafe.
“We have decided to stop taking people with postcodes from these areas.
“You don’t want to be in a situation where you’re limited in your trading, but there’s a global pandemic.
“Above anything else, our highest priority is the safety of the community.”