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'There's been no support!' Scottish bar owner hits out at Sturgeon's strict Covid rules

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Nicola Sturgeon unveiled new measures to curb the rise of Omicron cases last week, including new rules for hospitality venues and guidelines for Scots to avoid getting together whenever possible. Bar owner Jo De Sylva lamented the timing of the introduction, noting most businesses like hers earn nearly 30 percent of their annual revenue during the Christmas period. She also hit out at the financial support currently available to businesses forced to change up their way of serving customers.

Speaking to BBC Breakfast, Ms De Sylva said: “The whole of the hospitality industry has been devastated by these restrictions.

“I think for a lot of us these restrictions came in, and they came in very suddenly.

“I understand from a certain perspective but what was not thought through was how these were going to be implemented if there was going to be any financial recompense for those businesses who were having to close.

“Of course, it’s that uncertainty that is very, very difficult. The guidelines should have been clearer, are they necessarily correct? A question for experts but in terms of a financial effect, December-January is where about 30 percent of our annual income comes in and clearly that’s not going to happen.”

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She continued: “Whilst any financial help is incredibly welcome it really does not compensate at all for the months of January, February.

“Hospitality in January, February is notoriously quiet, we could be in the bar and only have 10 people come through the door because they hunker down come the January, February period.

“It’s cold, it’s snowy, the weather is not the best so you had your big events, you had your get-togethers in December.

“We will probably see quite a big number of businesses chose not to reopen. We saw before Christmas a number of businesses, because of the fall in footfall and also because of staffing issues, meant they didn’t open.”

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Ms De Sylva added she hoped restrictions will start to be eased from January and lead to Scots heading back to bars.

She added: “The guidelines and the increase in the virus are going to be devastating for a lot of the hospitality businesses.

“The only hope I have is that people who have not had a chance to go out in December, January, February will be the time for them to say, ‘you know, I’ve got a bit more money in my pocket, I didn’t go out across Christmas and New Year.’

“We have to make sure hospitality has some really interesting and exciting things in the hope it’ll inspire people to come out.”

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