‘Disappointment’ but no surprise at level three decisions

Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire and East Lothian will move to level three on Friday.

‘Disappointment’ but no surprise at level three decisions Ross Parker via SNS Group
Coronavirus: Aberdeen is one of the areas to change tiers.

Politicians and industry bodies were “disappointed” but not surprised as three council areas were moved to level three in the latest restrictions review.

Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire and East Lothian will move from level two on Friday, as the Scottish Government aims to get to grips with a rise in coronavirus cases in parts of the country.

The change – which means pubs and restaurants can stay open but can’t serve alcohol – was criticised by those in the hospitality industry.

Colin Wilkinson, managing director of the Scottish Licensed Trade Association, said uncertainty has been “the norm” for several months now.

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“It’s hugely unfair on businesses to expect them to switch on and off like a tap,” he said. “It’s not just a case of opening the doors – premises have to order supplies and organise staff rotas.

‘It’s hugely unfair on businesses to expect them to switch on and off like a tap.’

Colin Wilkinson, Scottish Licensed Trade Association

“Many have already taken the decision to remain closed until 2021 because of this uncertainty.”

Colin Cameron, owner of the Kirkgate Bar in Aberdeen, said: “It means, from our point of view, probably not opening – if you’ve got no drink.

“For hospitality generally, there’ll be big decisions to be made. I would think most places will close.

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“It is a major impact. The staff have been up for it, everything’s working very well. We’re doing everything by the book.”

Cases of coronavirus in Aberdeen city have risen by more than 50% in the past week, from 76 cases per 100,000 to 122, while case positivity has jumped from 3.9% to 6.1%.

The increase has not been as sharp in Aberdeenshire, the First Minister told the Scottish Parliament, but cases are still on the rise.

Adrian Watson, chief executive of Aberdeen Inspired, the city’s business improvement district, said: “We are very disappointed that Aberdeen has been moved to level three, but respect the decision that has been made.

“This will be difficult news for businesses across the city centre, as we are in the busy festive period when many had hoped to recoup some of the losses from restrictions throughout the year.”

He added he was “bitterly disappointed” that much of the night time economy “will be effectively closed down”.

First Minister: Nicola Sturgeon announced the changes on Tuesday.Russell Cheyne – WPA/Pool via Getty Images
First Minister: Nicola Sturgeon announced the changes on Tuesday.

Nicola Sturgeon told MSPs when she announced the decision on Tuesday she understood the move to level three involved “real and continued difficulties for many businesses”.

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The sentiment was echoed by politicians from different from parties. However there was little disagreement with the decision.

Andrew Bowie, Conservative MP for West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine, tweeted: “Something none of us wanted, but, given the numbers, sadly, undoubtedly the right thing to do.”

Iain Gray, Labour MSP for East Lothian, said the move was “very disappointing… but not surprising given the sharp rise in cases over the past week.”

He added: “So important that we stick to the rules in order to reverse that trend.”

David Duguid, Conservative MP for Banff and Buchan, said: “It is disappointing that Aberdeenshire and Aberdeen city will be placed into tier three Covid restrictions just a week before Christmas.

“Sadly, it is not surprising as cases have been rising and the recommendation from officials advising government had been for this to happen in each of the last three weeks.

“My immediate concern is for businesses in Banff and Buchan, particularly those in the hospitality trade, that may have to close their doors again.”

Kevin Stewart, SNP MSP for Aberdeen Central, tweeted: “Unfortunately, coronavirus case numbers in Aberdeen have risen by over 50% in the last week and level three restrictions are necessary to curb the spread of the virus.

“Many will be disappointed by this, but I would urge everyone to follow the rules to help protect the NHS and save lives.”