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News | 16th October 2020
 

New coronavirus rules will not help industry

Hotel owner criticises Scottish government for unclear message

 
 
 

THE number of COVID-19 cases in Langholm and Eskdale in the seven days up to last Sunday was zero.

The figures, released by the Scottish government, also show that the seven-day rate per 100,000 population was fewer than 15 from a total of 3,742 people.

In Dumfries and Galloway over those same seven days, there were 117 positive cases. That’s 78.6 people per 100,000.

The rate was also zero in Newcastleton which comes under Denholm and Hermitage and the rate per 100,000 was fewer than 15 from a population of 4,073.

In the Scottish Borders there were 37 cases over the seven days, a rate of 32 per 100,000 population.

In Scotland 1,297 new cases of COVID-19 were reported on Monday and there were seven new reported deaths of people who had tested positive.

Testing is available in Dumfries and Galloway for all members of the community with coronavirus symptoms who are aged five or older through the mobile testing unit.

Each location is visited on the same day of the week every fortnight. The unit is at the Kilngreen in Langholm today.

Appointments can be made from 9.30am by logging onto www.nhs.uk/ask-for-a-coronavirus-test

The current rules are:

Meeting friends and family: you must not meet anyone from outside your household or extended household inside a private home.

Up to six people from two households can meet outside (not counting under 12s).

A maximum of six 12 to 17-year-olds from up to six households can meet outdoors with social distancing.

Going to work: Work from home if you can. If this is not possible, employers must take “reasonable measures” to protect staff.

Schools and nurseries: Schools and nurseries remain open. Secondary school pupils and staff must wear face coverings when moving around the school.

Individual schools may be closed if there is an outbreak but must have a plan to continue remote learning for pupils.

Leisure time: Until October 25 inclusive, pubs, restaurants and cafes are allowed to open only indoors from 6am to 6pm and are not allowed to serve alcohol.

They can serve alcohol outdoors until 10pm. Table service is required in all hospitality premises.

A maximum of six people from two households can meet (not counting under 12s).

Hotel restaurants can serve residents after 6pm but cannot serve alcohol. Face coverings must be worn when not eating or drinking.

Shopping: Shops can open with 2m social distancing and other measures such as one-way systems in place. You must wear face coverings in shops and supermarkets.

Other: Car share only with members of your own or extended household. If you can’t, limit travel with others as much as possible and follow guidance.

Face coverings must be worn on public transport and in other indoor settings such as museums, cinemas, galleries, places of worship and staff canteens and corridors in workplaces.

Weddings, civil partnerships and funerals can be held with restrictions.

The new lockdown measures, which mean pubs can’t serve alcohol inside for the next 10 are basically ‘closure by stealth’, it is claimed.

Colin Smyth, South Scotland MSP, has been contacted by several licensees who have closed their doors for the duration of the new rules because either they do not have suitable outdoor areas to continue serving or decided that, because of the colder weather, it is not worth their while to operate on an outdoor basis.

While pubs and restaurants in the five central belt NHS areas affected by more stringent restrictions can claim grants of up to £3,000 from the Scottish government for the period they must close, in Dumfries and Galloway and the Borders those, who have decided to shut, can claim only up to £1,500.

Mr Smyth said: “While licensed premises can serve alcohol outside until 10pm, for many that isn’t a viable option.

“Many people now wonder whether the lockdown will continue past October 25 and this adds a new dimension of concern.

“The original furlough scheme ends on October 31 and, while the new scheme will pay two-thirds of workers’ wages, only hospitality firms, which have been ordered to close their doors, will be eligible.”

John Galloway, co-owner of the Eskdale Hotel in Langholm, said he didn’t know too much yet about further support for businesses which were having to reduce their operating schedules.

He said: “No-one wants to sit outside in this weather because it’s so cold; the whole thing it ill-thought-out.

“Most of our bookings last weekend were cancelled, including room bookings. People don’t want to spend £80 a night and be confined to their rooms from 6pm.”

John said the guidance was not clear and changed from what First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said to what Dumfries and Galloway Chamber of Commerce put out about being unable to serve alcohol.

It turned out hotels could serve alcohol to residents up to 10pm but only if they were outside or in their rooms.

“He said: “Overnight guests have to phone from their room or order online; they aren’t allowed to come down to the bar to order

“We spent hours phoning, emailing and going online trying to get the information. It was so unclear and confusing, not only for us but also our guests.

“We had people booked for lunch last weekend and we had to tell them that if they wanted alcohol, they would have to sit outside.”

He added: “I have no problem with our governments trying to stop the virus but this will not help.

“I don’t think we’ll see any reduction in 16 days because the horse has bolted. It’s too late; they should have done it before the universities went back.

“I watched Nicola Sturgeon on First Minister’s questions and she said it was not the government’s responsibility but the universities.

“I think it should be down to her. She is meant to be controlling it and should have given guidance to universities.

“The steps the government has taken will not help but will further endanger people’s livelihoods and jobs.”

 
 
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