Covid Scotland: Edinburgh restaurants react to restriction announcement as 'hundreds of cancellations' affect business

Edinburgh hospitality businesses have reacted to the ‘awful’ impact on business following the announcement of coronavirus restrictions – with one Capital restaurant seeing “hundreds of cancellations”.

Wednesday, 22nd December 2021, 2:11 pm
Updated Wednesday, 22nd December 2021, 3:11 pm

The news comes just day after First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced a range of new measures designed to slow the spread of the Omicron variant in Scotland.

For three weeks from December 26, there will be limits on the size of public events, meaning that Edinburgh Hogmanay events have been cancelled.

From December 27, hospitality businesses will have to ensure there is a one metre distance between different groups of people, and table service will be required where alcohol is served.

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Edinburgh hospitality businesses have reacted to the ‘awful’ impact on business following the announcement of restrictions.

Dean Gassabi, owner of Edinburgh’s Maison Bleue, revealed that his restaurant has seen “over a hundred cancellations per day”.

He claimed that cancellations increased by 90% last week following the spread of Omicron.

Mr Gassabi said: “Last week, we had around two – three hundred cancellations.

“We were very well-booked for New Year, but Hogmanay is cancelled and we are going to get all of those cancellations plus the ones from Christmas.”

Mr Gassabi said it’s hard to tell what will happen with the new restrictions coming into force if they do not have customers as problems such as increased VAT and energy prices remain.

He continued: “At the moment we are lucky where we are based at Victoria Street that there are still passers-by which kept us ticking but we feel sorry for the people who don’t have that.

“After Christmas, I don’t know if we are going to be open or not we will just have to wait and see. It’s very unfortunate for our staff, especially those working at an hourly rate.

“Help from government if we get it is only going to cover a fraction of our losses.”

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Carina Contini of the Contini restaurants in Edinburgh is anxious about cancellations in the run up to Christmas and New Year.

She said: “We understand that people are cautious but the government has not closed hospitality and we are working within the guidelines and our customers can still come.

“We are anxious for our team if people do start to cancel more then how do we give our team shifts and how do we pay our bills?”

Contini added that there is “not enough support for the community that can’t work from home, stressing that Covid is not just affecting the hospitality industry.

She said: “This is an exceptionally difficult time for hospitality and retail businesses and we are heartbroken for all the theatres that have been closed.

“We can’t separate lives and livelihoods if we don’t have a roof over our heads.”

Katie O’Brien from Paul Kitching 21212 has seen cancellations but reckons it’s not had a great impact.

She said: “Yes, we are taking cancellations but other people may book.

“People do seem to be hesitant. We’re taking cancellations for New Year’s Eve because people were planning to go to the street party and this has been the case for room cancellations as well.

“The uncertainty of what is happening is the bit I can be doing without.”

Mr Gassabi agreed that a lot more forewarning is needed with restrictions and guidance so they can plan ahead and protect their staff and customers.

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