Publican fumes as omicron causes 'tidal wave' of cancellations
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A frustrated pub owner from St Andrews has opened up about the financial damages the hospitality sector is facing after Scotland’s national public health body urged people to bin their festive gatherings in a bid to control the Omicron variant. Pubs may not be forced to temporarily shut down altogether like last year, but Steve Latto is anticipating the upcoming catastrophic implications for his and other pubs across Scotland as Nicola Sturgeon looks to tighten rules further. Mr Latto warned that the hospitality industry will be hit hard as he described the upcoming cancellations of parties as “a death by 1000 cuts”.
Before the pandemic turned things upside down, December’s revenue used to give him and his family financial security that lasted until at least February.
Mr Latto aired his concerns about the ongoing “tsunami of cancellations” and highlighted that, with people being urged to avoid heading to pubs, theatres, and other entertainment venues, things are slowly but surely going back to square one for the Hospitality sector, just like during the embryonic stages of the pandemic in March of last year.
He told GB News: “It’s the same as we experienced in March 2020 when the public got told to avoid the Hospitality. It’s happening all over again.
“We are continuing to be as safe as we possibly can but the Scottish government urged everybody to cancel their Christmas parties.
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“It’s just a tsunami of cancellations across the board that came out of nowhere. We’re picking up the pieces.
“Normally this time in the year takes us into January, February with some money in our pockets.
“But it doesn’t look like it’s gonna happen this year.
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon warned that the Omicron strain of COVID-19 is destined to take the place of Delta as the most fatal variant on Scottish shores.
And her last-gasp change of heart to force everyone to cancel their Christmas parties didn’t go down well among the Scottish population, with people furiously requesting her to step down.
Public Health Scotland urges people to defer Christmas parties
Mr Latto took consolation from how things have picked up compared to December 2020 when pubs in Scotland were not even allowed to sell alcoholic beverages before they closed altogether.
Pubs in Scotland are allowed to stay open for now.
But with St Andrews being predominantly inhabited by university students, the mass exodus of people in the upcoming weeks is a realistic prospect. And this would add further salt into the pub owners’ already bleeding financial wounds.
He admitted: “Yeah, at this time last year in Scotland we weren’t able to sell alcohol. We are substantially better off than that.
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“But the problem is that, from our point of view, there’s no Christmas party, our local theatre has closed just in case the transmission happens.
“In St Andrews, we’ve got a lot of students that left to go home early in case there’s are travel restrictions that come in. And that all has a knock-on effect on our suppliers.”
Scotland recorded over 3,000 new coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours with the total tally of Omicron cases rising to 109.
Ms Sturgeon said that the 109 cases are just the “tip of the iceberg” as she expects the situation to deteriorate.
For fear of a more serious Omicron outbreak, the director of Public Health Scotland Dr Nick Phin urged people to ditch their Christmas plans.
He said: “There is much that we still need to learn about Omicron, but early evidence suggests that this new Covid variant is much more transmissible. The impact of this transmissibility has been seen in recent weeks, with a number of Omicron outbreaks linked to parties.
“We still need to learn more about the severity of disease caused by Omicron and the effectiveness of vaccines, but there are important things that we can do to help protect ourselves and our families now. To help minimise the further spread of Covid-19, and Omicron, in particular, I would strongly urge people to defer their Christmas parties to another time.”
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