'We have been left high and dry': Glasgow reacts to remaining in level three following covid restriction announcement from Nicola Sturgeon

Businesses across Glasgow have been left disappointed at confirmation the council area will remain in level three for the next week.

Glasgow pub sign protest outside Ubiquitous Chip (Photo: John Devlin).
Glasgow pub sign protest outside Ubiquitous Chip (Photo: John Devlin).

Speaking at the Covid briefing on Friday, Nicola Sturgeon announced that Glasgow will remain in level three this week as case numbers in Scotland’s largest city remain “uncomfortably high” despite signs the situation is showing more “stability”.

However, the First Minister said if the situation continues to stabilise and hospitalisation levels remain reasonably stable then, Glasgow could move to level two from the end of next week.

This will be reviewed and a final decision on whether Glasgow will move down to level two will be given “no later than Wednesday of next week”.

Yet despite telling the people of Glasgow not to “lose heart”, many are frustrated and worried their businesses are at risk.

Scottish Beer & Pub Association (SBPA) chief executive Emma McClarkin said: “This is a heart-breaking situation for our sector in Glasgow.

"The inability to sell alcohol indoors means that for many pubs and other licensed premises, they simply cannot open.

"Every week that goes by, more debt is incurred and more businesses are likely to fail.

"We desperately need to see progress next week.”

Billy Gold, owner of the Hielan Jessie in Gallowgate and who is also a member of the Scottish Licensed Trade Association, said: “The problem is that pubs like mine, and there are many many pubs like mine in Glasgow, we don’t have an outside area and we don’t sell food – more of an old-fashioned, traditional pub.

"We just cannot viable trade without selling alcohol indoors as we don’t have another string to our bow.

"We have been left high and dry by this news.”

Mr Gold said his existing grant of £350 was “nowhere near” able to cover all his expenses every week and claimed the Scottish Government had been poor at communicating with the public.

He added: “We are coming close to the wire and the kick in the teeth was that a lot of people, myself included, ordered to be stocked up for May 17, so I’m paying for stock I pretty much hoped I would have sold by now."

Many publicans across Glasgow are also angered at the recent announcement of a ‘fan zone’ for the Euro 2020 championship, which they believe will drive away local customers.

"There’s going to be something like 3,000 fans in this fan zone per session,” said Mr Gold. “I’ve got a pub which holds 102 and the maximum number I can allow in is 33.

“My pub is 150 yards from Glasgow Green and I serve this community unlike the vendors who are going to come here and go.

"The hospitality industry in Glasgow is not going to get a penny out of it.

"We are being disrespected and being treated like we are dafties.”

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Stephen Montgomery, from the Scottish Hospitality Group, said: “All that’s going to happen is people will continue to travel outside Glasgow city centre, further spreading the virus.

"We already know that’s happening.

"So, if things are really that bad that there needs to be this continued lockdown, then this is a counter-productive move and makes no sense as far as the government’s policy is concerned.

"We firmly believe the approach based on case numbers is largely irrelevant now. It’s admissions and other hospital data that should be used and it’s great to see that those are remaining at a very low level.

"With the vaccine roll-out and all the preventative measures that the government has had us put in place, it should be possible to remove Glasgow from these unfair restrictions now.

"It is quite staggering to think that the plan for the fan zone at Glasgow Green is in full swing, but here we have a situation where Scottish Government thinks that keeping Glasgow City in level three and throwing hospitality businesses a pitiful £750 per week is acceptable.”

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) was also left disappointed as Glasgow expects to see a sunny bank holiday at the weekend.

Commenting on the First Minister’s announcement on Friday, Andrew McRae, FSB Scotland policy chair said: “Glasgow businesses are getting used to these weekly Friday disappointments.

"This one is all the more galling because it looks like Monday will see Glasgow basking in the sort of gloriously sunny bank holiday that could have helped small hospitality operators recoup some of their losses.

“The First Minister did suggest there might be light at the end of the tunnel next week – and breaking the Friday-for-Monday announcement cycle will give business owners a little more notice. It’s very difficult to run a business, or plan your family finances, when you need to tune into the lunchtime news on a Friday to find out if you’ll be working on the Monday.

“The businesses and employees hardest hit by these ongoing restrictions need proper support now.

"The Glasgow hospitality industry was given two days to scrap their re-opening plans. But even now, after two weeks, we still don’t have adequate financial support measures in place. That needs remedied as a matter of urgency.”

Craig Neilson, chief greenkeeper at Fore Play Crazy Golf, said: “We're incredibly disappointed by today's news that Glasgow will remain in tier three. It's another blow for our business, the hospitality sector, but also the lowest paid workers in our city which undoubtedly has a knock on effect on poverty and health.”

Yet some businesses were more optimistic about the announcement.

Antony Johnson, regional manager for Mecca Bingo in Scotland, said: “We were disappointed at the last-minute decision to not reopen on Monday 17th May when we were so close to bouncing back, and excited to see our customers.

“However, we’re now thrilled to be able to confirm the reopening of our Glasgow clubs on 5th June.

"We’re expecting this to be the year of bingo.”

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