Edinburgh restaurateur says Nicola Sturgeon must put city in Level Two tomorrow

Restaurateur Virginie Brouard says Nicola Sturgeon must use tomorrow's update on Covid restrictions to put Edinburgh into Level Two and give her a last chance to serve a glass of wine to diners before Christmas.
Virginie Brouard runs La P’tite Folie and Le Di-Vin in Randolph Place at the West EndVirginie Brouard runs La P’tite Folie and Le Di-Vin in Randolph Place at the West End
Virginie Brouard runs La P’tite Folie and Le Di-Vin in Randolph Place at the West End

The owner of La P'tite Folie and wine bar Le Di-Vin, who tweeted last week about her fears she may have to close down, says her restaurant is a safer place for people than the crowded throng of Christmas shoppers in Princes Street.

The Capital's current Level Three status means bars and restaurants must close at 6pm and alcohol is banned. Last week's decision not to let the city go down a level – allowing opening until 8pm and alcohol with meals – was met with an outcry from the hospitality industry and local politicians, who argued the figures meant it should be in Level Two.

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Ms Brouard said: “The restaurant is open just now but nobody comes out because they can’t have a glass of wine. Is she going to say tomorrow we can reopen on Friday? If she doesn't put us in Tier Two, what kind of excuse is she going to give us?

“There is Christmas shopping – Princes Street is full. I went to Fort Kinnaird for my kids' Christmas shopping but I left - I couldn’t even park in the car park. It's just not right - because my restaurant is safer than those places.”

Last week she tweeted: "One more week of non-trading will see the end of my businesses, I cannot hold on any longer."

She says her business is strong and she has always paid her bills, but Covid has left her struggling.

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"I have three kids and a mortgage and I have to pay electricity, gas and everything - it costs me about £3,000 a month just to keep my business closed.

“When we went into the first lockdown the government response was very good - everybody got furlough and we could delay our payments, PAYE and so on until January 31 but that's next month. I owe £23,000 to the VAT since April and £10,000 for my personal tax - so that's £33,000. Where am I going to find that? I haven't been trading. And I am worried. I already borrowed £30,000 at the start of the lockdown.”

She said some restaurants had been able to secure government help, but she had got little.

"In the first lockdown I couldn’t get anything because of my rateable value. The second lockdown, they decided to give something per restaurant and I got £3,200 - I thought it was monthly, but it was just a one-off. So since March all the government has given me is £3,200. When I think of all the tax and VAT I've paid over 23 years I'm disgusted.”

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She acknowledged that relaxing the restrictions could lead to a surge in people going out drinking. But she said: “We can still open and be sensible - open till 8pm, people at lunchtime can have a glass of wine and it will put double the money in the till. We need that and it is up to us to keep an eye with our staff on the customers to make sure everybody behaves - most people behave.”

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