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Amid new Covid tightening

Hospitality owners in plea for alcohol rule change

Dean Banks: ‘I don’t understand’ (pic: BBC)

Three Scottish council areas will be subject to tougher coronavirus rules under changes putting more pressure on hospitality businesses.

Fife, Angus and Perth & Kinross will be moved from level two to level three of Scotland’s five-level system.

It means pubs and restaurants in those areas will no longer be allowed to serve alcohol.

The existing restrictions in all of the country’s other local authority areas will remain unchanged.

The first minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “I know this will be disappointing to residents and businesses in these areas.

“However, by acting now, we can hopefully prevent an even more serious deterioration in the situation.”

But hotel and pub owners are increasingly frustrated by the guidelines which allow customers to buy alcohol from supermarkets but not from controlled hospitality environments.

Dean Banks, director and chef at The Haar restaurant in St Andrews, was among a number of businesses expressing despair at the continuing ban which is driving customers away.

The former Masterchef finalist said: “How does Covid-19 know if someone’s drinking a cup of coffee or a glass of wine? What is the difference there? I don’t really understand what the difference is.”

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Jill Chalmers, managing director of Glenapp Castle in South Ayrshire, fears her five-star hotel could be moved into level four. She said: “Since day 1 of opening in July, we have invested significant amount of money into ensuring our guests and staff are safe from Covid-19.

“We continue to run a super clean operation consistently conforming to the required social distancing and Covid regulations and there have been no cases of Covid resulting from Glenapp Castle.

“We urge the First Minister to not only amend the rules to allow alcohol to be served to guests, but also to bring all of Scotland to lower tiers as quickly as possible, in order to prevent further damage and thousands of job losses to the tourism and hospitality sectors. 

Andrew McRae, FSB’s Scotland policy chairman, said: “Today’s changes see many more Scottish independent businesses face new restrictions.

“However necessary, this will cause heartache for the operators in the firing line, even with the support that’s on offer from governments in Edinburgh and London.”

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