Pubs and bars scrap Hogmanay plans as Covid-19 cases and restrictions bite

Scotland’s hospitality sector is facing up to another challenging Hogmanay, with venues cancelling events around the bells due to staff self-isolating, customer cancellations, and strict new Covid-19 restrictions.

On what is traditionally the busiest night of the year for pubs and bars, premises around the country have abandoned plans for traditional party nights and ceilidhs amid an ongoing spike in Covid-19 infections.

Some 12 months after pubs and restaurants were ordered to close over New Year, hopes that they would be able to make up for it this time around have been dashed.

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Mayson’s, a popular pub in Dalkeith, announced that due to staff members contracting Covid-19, as well as numerous regular customers, the decision has been taken to close until 2 January.

The Swan Inn, an award-winning bar and restaurant in the East Renfrewshire village of Eaglesham, had hoped to hold its annual Hogmanay celebrations, but several of its staff are in self-isolation, forcing its cancellation.

In Stirling, Fletcher’s, a family-run bar and restaurant, is closing on Hogmanay despite being fully booked, due the fact self-isolation rules meant it did not have enough staff.

Other venues, including Innes Bar in Inverness and The Kirk in Cowdenbeath, have announced their Hogmanay events were cancelled due to members of bands testing positive for Covid-19.

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A host of venues across Scotland have scrapped plans for Hogmanay events. Picture: Jacky Ghossein/TSPL

Elsewhere, other bars have scrapped their Hogmanay plans in light of the recently reintroduced Scottish Government restrictions which require one metre physical distancing and the use of table service in hospitality venues.

The Dolphin Bar in Dundee, the Slanj restaurant in Loch Lomond, Si Bar in Irvine, the Fiveways Inn in Glasgow, the Maxwell Arms in Dalbeattie, Cleats Bar in Gourock, and the Davron Hotel in Fraserburgh are among a growing number of venues to have cancelled their ticketed Hogmanay parties, with customers set to receive a full refund.

The Kings Theatre in Kirkcaldy has pulled its ‘Touch of Tartan’ event at the bells, which was set to feature live bands and a DJ. The theatre said it would have been “extremely irresponsible” to look at reducing capacity and still invite people to gather.

Other scheduled Hogmanay events have been scrapped due to customers pulling out. The Royal George Hotel in Perth said it was cancelling its gala dinner and Hogmanay celebrations in light of “a large number of cancellations after Christmas.”

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Management at the Horseshoe Bar in Airdrie, North Lanarkshire, said a decision had been taken to call off its Hogmanay party night due to several table cancellations.

It comes after organisers of Edinburgh’s famous Hogmanay street party said they were “incredibly sad” to cancel the gathering for the second year in a row, given the restrictions also limit the number of people attending outside events to 500.

Scots have been urged not to travel to England - where nightclubs remain open - to bring in the New Year and get around stricter restrictions north of the border.

Although there is no cross-border travel ban in place across the UK, Deputy First Minister John Swinney said doing so would go against the "spirit" of the Covid-19 measures in Scotland.

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