Eateries have shut down in the city for good as new restrictions create “impossible climate to operate in”.
Restaurants across Aberdeen, including Melt, Coast to Coast and a Pizza Express branch, have closed their doors for good, with warnings that others will follow suit in the coming weeks if restrictions aren’t eased.
Several bars and restaurants have also decided to close for the foreseeable future, with the city’s No. 1 restaurant the latest to announce such a decision.
Paul Waterson, of the Scottish Licensed Trade Association (SLTA), says the industry has been treated harshly by the Scottish Government in recent weeks and that the city should expect more permanent closures to come.
Paul said: “I understand it’s not an easy balancing act for the Scottish Government to balance the needs of business with the need to control the pandemic and it’s difficult to criticise them because they are having to constantly react and respond to the spread but we just don’t think some of the ways we’ve been treated is in line with what appears to be the science.
“It’s not going to get any easier. In fact, it could get worse and I think it just depends on the figures. These recent restrictions are effectively another lockdown for a lot of places. Looking at Aberdeen, we’ve been told that transmission occurred there because there was a movement of people round pubs.
“What the government should’ve done with the curfew was make it so that you couldn’t move elsewhere after 10pm, so you couldn’t go from one premise to another. If you were already in a premise at 10pm, you stayed in there and you weren’t able to move around.
“Now, that would’ve stopped the problem that appeared to happen in Aberdeen before and it would’ve also alleviated the problem of people going back to houses. And that would’ve helped a lot and that’s what they should’ve done with the curfew, rather than closing everything at 10pm which forces people out into the street where there’s no social distancing or controls, they go back to house parties where there’s also no social distancing or controls, and so on.”
Aberdeen hit hard
The latest restrictions – a maximum of six people from no more than two households could meet at one time indoors and a 10pm curfew on all bars and restaurants – have hit Aberdeen hard after its localised lockdown back in August.
Paul added: “Since the end of August we have even more restrictions than we had before – 10 or eight people from three households, then six people from two and we’ve got a 10pm closing time which is effectively a lockdown for many, especially in the city centre premises.
“The problem is 100% related to Covid and the way it’s been handled with the restrictions and the rules we’ve now got to adhere to.”
Paul points to data from Public Health England suggesting the rate of transmission from pubs has been relatively low, as out of 772 new cases in one week during September, it was found that only 22 of those came from bars and restaurants.
“We know that Public Health England did a survey on transmission a couple of weeks ago and they reckoned that the transmission was under five percent in pubs and bars. A later survey at the weekend from a group said that transmission was under 3% in pubs and bars – so pubs and bars are actually safer than when we know transmission is rife, which is in the home.
“The 10pm closing time puts people in a position in which they are going to go on to homes and have parties and so on and so we would like to see the evidence the Scottish Government have used to shut us down.
“We’re also the only country in the world that has a ban on music. I could understand a ban on live music or loud music, but when it comes to background music and trying to create an atmosphere, it’s difficult to understand the logic in that as well.
“We’ve supported the Scottish Government in a lot of things that they’ve decided to do but we don’t understand the recent restrictions and we don’t see the need for them in the context of households. We definitely need sector-specific help because the new job retention scheme announced by the chancellor is not good enough and it won’t help. The furlough scheme did help.”
Scotland suffering most
Colin Wilkinson, managing director of the SLTA, says that the hospitality trade in Scotland is “losing more trading hours per day than any other country in the UK” following the curfew.
He added: “With the staggered closing times we have in Scotland this is anything from between two and five hours per day. Other parts of the UK do not have the same flexibility in opening hours.
“Having invested heavily in training and social-distancing measures across the entire sector to reopen and rebuild consumer confidence, the Scottish Government has disproportionately targeted our industry yet again with devastating consequences for businesses and the jobs that they provide.”
A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “We fully appreciate how difficult it has been for the hospitality sector, but these new restrictions are based on the fundamental need to reduce transmissions, which we know is key to keeping infection rates as low as possible.
“We are doing everything with the powers we have to help businesses, offering support which now exceeds £2.3 billion, including 100% rates relief for pubs and restaurants for the year. As the First Minister has indicated, we would like to have the flexibility to go further – but we are constrained by the fact that most of the key financial powers relating to job retention and related schemes are reserved to the UK Government.”
The current list of restaurants and bars to have closed permanently in Aberdeen are (list will be updated if more closures announced):
- Under The Hammer
- Pizza Express, Belmont Street
- Coast to Coast @ Union Square
The current list of restaurants and bars to have closed again temporarily after having re-opened their doors following lockdown are:
- No. 1 Bar and Grill
- Bothy Restaurant and Bar at The Palm Court Hotel
If you are aware of any more cafes, bars or restaurants closing in the city, please let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org
“Due to the ongoing Covid situtation and the restrictions that apply to the hospitality industry at present we have come to the sad decision that No. 1 will not re open in 2020.”
“We’ve tried really hard to keep things going, but like many small businesses at the moment we just couldn’t weather the storm any longer. We have changed our business a hundred times during the first lockdown… then the second lockdown happened.”
Under the hammer
“Under the Hammer will not reopen. Holed below the waterline and unable to remain afloat.”
Coast to coast, Union Square
“The casual dining sector has faced enormous, well-documented pressures which have been exacerbated by Covid-19 and the lockdown.
“Unfortunately, we have had to take difficult but necessary decisions to ensure a sustainable future for our business.”
Pizza Express, Belmont Street
“Unfortunately, the impact of the global pandemic has meant that we have had to make some incredibly tough decisions to safeguard Pizza Express for the long term.
“Today we have confirmed that 73 of our pizzerias are proposed to close permanently.”
“Unfortunately we have had to take the hard decision to close for the foreseeable future. Under the current regulations… it has made it an impossible climate to operate in.”
Bothy Restaurant and Bar at The Palm Court Hotel
“It’s goodbye for now… but not forever! With government legislation changing regularly and in line with some of the more recent developments, we now feel that even welcoming our locals back to our Bothy Restaurant and Bar is not feasible at this time…”
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