Glasgow pubs warn of ‘excruciating situation’ as indoor drinking ban remains

Pubs and restaurants in Scotland’s largest city are stuck in an “excruciating situation” and need more financial support, industry bosses have said.

From next week, Glasgow will be the only place in the UK where establishments are banned from serving alcohol indoors, said the Federation of Small Business Scotland policy chairman Andrew McRae.

Moray, which had remained with Glasgow in Level 3 of coronavirus restrictions, will now join the rest of the mainland in Level 2 from Saturday.

The drop to Level 2 means widespread relaxations over rules in hospitality and entertainment, including venues being able to serve alcohol indoors and the reopening of cinemas, theatres and casinos.

It was confirmed on Friday that Glasgow will remain in Level 3 for at least another week.

Mr McRae said: “Understandably, business owners and their customers are intensely frustrated.

“While we want to see new financial support for Glaswegian operators, especially those that took on new staff for reopening, we must also see the Scottish Government investigate whether a new approach is required for the city.

“If the virus has not been brought under control while Glasgow businesses have faced almost nine months of restrictions, then surely the problem lies elsewhere.”

Glasgow Chamber of Commerce chief executive Stuart Patrick said businesses have already been hit with “hefty financial losses in staff and perishable food costs” after Level 3 restrictions were extended last week, when a move to Level 2 had been anticipated.

Coronavirus – Mon Apr 26, 2021
Drinkers in Glasgow must remain outside in Level 3 (Craig Paton/PA)

He called for more advance warnings for businesses and “much more targeted and appropriate levels of financial support”.

The Scottish Government has said affected businesses will receive additional financial support of up to £750 per week, something DRG restaurant chain boss Mario Gizzi has labelled a “joke”.

Colin Clydesdale, co-owner of Glasgow venues The Ubiquitous Chip, Stravaigin and Hanoi Bike Shop, issued a warning to the Scottish Government.

He told BBC Radio Scotland: “How long can you expect businesses to limp along in a loss-making situation before they all start to fold? It just doesn’t make any sense.

“Tens of thousands of folk in Scotland work in this industry.

“The tourist industry is one of the biggest in the country, and without restaurants and bars and lovely Scottish hospitality, who’s going to come? Why would you come to a place where there’s nothing left? And that’s what we’re looking at if this keeps up.

“The effect on staff has been enormous. We don’t have the hours for them. We’ve managed to keep just about all of them all the way through this.

“We were gearing up for a sense of normality, and we don’t know what we tell the staff now, we really don’t.

“We can’t second-guess it because the rug may be pulled out with 15 minutes’ notice.”

The number of cases per 100,000 people in Glasgow has increased from 71 last week to 122.6 in the seven days to May 18.