Covid Scotland: Edinburgh pub boss quits after facing sexual harassment, threats of violence and abuse following lockdown easing

An Edinburgh pub manager is quitting their job after saying that the behaviour of customers is almost unbearable since bars have been allowed to reopen – and she has shared her experience.

Monday, 5th July 2021, 4:11 pm

We have kept the identity of the interviewee and her place of employment private as a precaution.

A pub manager with more than six years experience in the industry, and with her sights on promotion, has decided to quit after saying that the behaviour of customers is worse than ever before following covid rule relaxations.

The hospitality manager, who asked not to be named, has shared her experiences from the last few weeks working in a city centre pub including sexual harassment, threats of violence and aggression starting from her very first shift after they reopened.

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Covid restrictions easing in Edinburgh pubs has sparked a wave of abuse, one pub manager said. Picture: general pub scene.
Covid restrictions easing in Edinburgh pubs has sparked a wave of abuse, one pub manager said. Picture: general pub scene.

Ignorance of the rules

"My first closing shift back after the pubs re-opened after this recent lockdown, we need to have everyone out by 10:30pm no later.

"People were not understanding or playing dumb as if they hadn’t been watching or keeping up with the news.

"Which is pretty hard not to since social media is rife with it.”

Covid restrictions in Edinburgh easing following lockdown, and further rules are likely to be loosened soon. Picture: JPI Media

The pub would ring last orders at 10pm, with 15 minutes to purchase final drinks, then 15 minutes drinking up time in order to ensure that everyone is out by the required time.

Closing the pub is a regulation put in place by the Scottish Government, not the pub itself.

She continues: “A young group of men were in. They were taking their time and every time we went over to say hurry up they just kept saying “aye aye we’ll be done” after a couple more warnings, then one them compares me to Hitler.

"At this point it’s 10:28pm - they’re saying I’m barking orders at them.”

After the time was up, their drinks had to be taken off them, or the pub would be in serious breach of the law.

"They went mental calling me a Nazi and a f***ing idiot. The threat of the police finally got them off the premises.”

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Speed dial 999

She talks about how another man exposed himself to her outside while he was drunk – she begged him to leave as he over turned an table, smashing glass everywhere.

Referring to yet another incident, she says: "I had a middle aged man sitting in the outside furniture with some friends.

“He had been there a few hours and was getting pretty drunk so we decided to cut him off.

“He couldn’t understand why we were not serving him anymore and that it was insulting to say that he looked drunk.

“It was like WW3 started.

“He started screaming in my face calling me and all the staff m**** and how we were f***ing idiots.

“But I especially, was the devil.

“We pressed the red button to get the police, and he wasn’t budging.

“If it wasn’t for his friend pulling him away it could’ve got worse.

“He then kept coming back to the front door of the pub shouting to us that we’re all f***ing idiots and that he was gonna tell everyone he knows about it.

“What makes someone think that’s okay to say to someone?

“It scares the hell out of me working in the pub now.

"We don’t need this abuse.”

‘The fish is average, just like you’

For many working in the hospitality industry, these stories are not unfamiliar.

But this worker said that it was not just drunk people causing problems and that the general attitude of everyone who is out and about has changed.

People are angrier and ruder, she said, adding that it is ‘relentless’.

“Recently, an older gentleman came in with his friend. They were having some drinks and lunch.

"We greeted them at the door, asked them to sanitise their hands and get them to do the Track and Trace.

"We got them sat at their table, took their order everything was going well.

"Their food was brought to their table and they said their thanks.

"I went back to the table to do the check back to make sure their food was okay for the gentleman to look me dead in the eyes and say “The fish is average, just like you”.

"I was just so shocked, I walked away.

"Who says that to someone they don’t even know?”

Each of these incidents have happened with the space of a few weeks.

Wider hospitality industry experiences

Hospitality in the Capital reopened in April after the winter lockdown, with drinking only allowed outside for the first few weeks.

With Edinburgh now in level two, drinking is allowed indoors, though each venue must ensure they are using track and trace, that appropriate distancing is in place and that the new government guidelines are implemented.

A spokesperson from the union Unite said: "The pandemic and it's aftermath have hit hospitality harder than any other industry and it's workers have borne the brunt of that.

"As the sector is opening back-up, we're seeing a spike in incidents of customers verbally and even physically assaulting workers for asking them to wear masks, use Track and Trace or to adhere to social distancing.

"Many employers are failing in their duty to protect their workforce in accordance with the Health and Safety at Work Act.

“This is why Unite is campaigning for employers to adopt the Fair Hospitality Charter which, as well as paying the real living wage, guaranteed hours and 100%, demands the implementation of a proactive sexual harassment policy which protects workers.

“Hospitality workers are in a uniquely dangerous position of having to implement confusing Covid rules with inebriated customers.

"The very least they deserve is protection in the law and from employers."

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