Operators in Aberdeen have voiced their frustrations at the continuing lockdown in the city after the first minister said it was too early to lift restrictions, before adding that exceptions may be made for non-licensed hospitality premises next week.
On Wednesday this week Nicola Sturgeon said she hopes to ease restrictions next Wednesday, but only to allow the opening of what she called ‘lower-risk' businesses, such as non-licensed cafes. The first minister has expressed caution around hospitality businesses, particularly since the Aberdeen outbreak was linked to bars in the city centre.
Jill MacDonald, owner of the Noose & Monkey gastropub on Rosemount Viaduct in the city centre had planned to reopen on 6 August, a day before the localised lockdown was announced. She was forced to put plans on hold and has since started running a takeaway service from the pub at weekends while putting staff back on the furlough scheme.
"It's not the best. Fortunately, because I could see it [the lockdown] was likely going to be happening, I held back and didn't order in food but my beer stock is sat downstairs doing nothing."
MacDonald said was looking forward to getting back to normal, "whatever normal may be", adding that the re-imposed restrictions were hard not only financially but mentally, too.
Meanwhile The Stack Restaurant in coastal village Muchalls, a 10-minute drive from Aberdeen and outside the lockdown zone, was allowed to stay open for diners.
Chef-owner Andy Smart has benefited and been "very busy and fully booked ever since", but appreciates the frustration of other operators in the area.
He told The Caterer: "The whole thing is a joke. Shutting us down when we've all got produce and we have to stop – there's no thought at all to the cost involved, the food waste and everything."
He added: "Everyone's of the same mindset. You can't punish everybody for a couple of bars' mistakes."
The first minister also announced on Wednesday a £1 million support fund, which will provide grants of £1,000 and £1,500 to businesses in the city most affected by the closure.
The update on the Aberdeen lockdown is expected to be announced on Sunday.
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