Edinburgh restaurateur Tom Kitchin has described the Tier 3 restrictions in Scotland, particularly the ban on alcohol sales, as "a long, slow, painful death" for the hospitality industry.
Pubs and restaurants in Tier 3 in Scotland must close at 6pm and are not allowed to sell alcohol.
He said: "I totally understand that we have to work within the restrictions, but what does it achieve by taking away that extra income that we could generate to pay our staff and suppliers? No-one's trying to make a profit here; everyone's just trying to survive and keep the chain moving, because our suppliers are on their knees.
"We totally understand the restrictions – we're here to help, we want to curb the virus. If 6pm is what is needed, then fine, 6pm it is – but why take away the alcohol sales? We're just asking for a glass of wine with your lunch for goodness' sake. You're coming for lunch, you're having a substantial meal – you're not going to the pub and doing tequila shots."
Kitchin has already been forced to permanently close his Castle Terrace restaurant as it was no longer financially viable, while Southside Scran will remain closed for the rest of the year. His remaining restaurants, the Bonnie Badger, the Scran & Scallie and his Michelin-starred Kitchin restaurant are open for lunch service only.
He added: "We are going to lose all these wonderful, small, independent restaurants if we're not careful. There's only so much that Scottish hospitality can deal with. We're operating at a loss to open and serve, and that is not sustainable."
Roberta Hall-McCarron, co-owner of the Little Chartroom, also in Edinburgh, has been focusing on the restaurant's delivery service and pop-up on the Portobello Promenade since Edinburgh went into Tier 3, which has allowed the business to keep on all its staff and support its suppliers.
"It is quite a short window that we have within Tier 3 – just being able to do a long lunch – and with no alcohol it does have an effect on the sales, unfortunately," she said. "It was just worth our while doing the [Little Chartroom at Home] packs and keeping the restaurant closed."
She said the uncertainty and changing restrictions had been the hardest thing for the business and wanted some continuity for her customers. Her delivery service can continue even if the area is put into Tier 4, in which hospitality premises have to close.
"It's hard enough for ourselves to keep chopping and changing, but it's getting that message across to everyone who has booked. We wanted to keep things simple so that people didn't get confused about if we were open or when we're open from. We want to have some continuity."
She added: "If we get moved into Tier 2 tomorrow [17 November] then we'll have a serious conversation about reopening… but if nothing changes, then we might also make a decision to not reopen until January."
The Scottish Hospitality Group (SHG) has called on the Scottish government to ‘tweak the tiers' or publish the scientific evidence behind its restrictions on trading hours. The group warned that time is running out to save Christmas for businesses across Scotland.
Gleneagles in Auchterarder, Perthshire, announced it will be closed until February after the area was moved into Tier 3. A spokesperson told The Caterer the five-red-AA-starred, 232-bedroom resort is aiming to protect all staff jobs and will furlough affected employees until February.
Wetherspoon also closed 46 of its 61 pubs in Scotland over the weekend that were in Tier 3 zones until "restrictions are eased and our pubs can trade more normally".
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