Omicron in Fife: Cancellations and no shows hit hospitality with new funding unlikely to compensate losses

Hospitality businesses across Fife which have been hit with cancellations and no shows say the promise of new funding cannot replace what has already been lost over the festive season.

The raid spread of the new omicron variant has let to a tightening of the guidance, with hotels, bars and restaurants feeling the brunt as hospitality experiences a tough few weeks.

Although no formal ban has been placed on Christmas parties, many have cancelled social get-togethers with some people not even turning up for bookings as fears about the new variant continue to spread.

In an announcement by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon in Parliament on Tuesday she pledged a further £100m of support for companies.

A number of Fife hospitality businesses have been hit by cancellations over the past fortnight - particularly the cancellation of many large table bookings.

However, some Fife businesses say they don’t think it will make up for the damage which has already been done.

Jason Borthwick, owner of the Sands Hotel in Burntisland, said: “I can't really comment until the level of funding is announced but I doubt it will be enough to replace what we have already lost.

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"The restrictions aren't too damaging to us as a business, the damage was done by telling people not to go out and describing hospitality as high risk areas which evidence doesn't appear to back up.

Jason Borthwick, owner of the Sands Hotel in Burntisland. Pic:Fife Photo Agency.

"After the last announcement we had cancellation after cancellation. It’s the group bookings that keep us going at this time of year and the ‘unofficially’ cancelled that on us this year.

"We are hoping for some support, but I suspect it won’t really scratch the surface for most and it is a worry for how we can keep all our staff employed with no customers.”

Elaine Martone, owner of Italian restaurant La Gondola in Kirkcaldy, said: “They say funding is available but I doubt we will get any help – we can never get the lost business back.

"The last few weeks have been a bit of a disaster. We have had lots of cancellations particularly on the bigger tables and last weekend we lost quite a bit of business because of the uncertainty.

Elaine Martone, owner of La Gondola, said she has had a lot of cancellations.

"We have had cancellations of tables of 22, 18, three tables of ten and nines.

"People just don’t feel comfortable and we feel obliged to give them back their deposits because it’s not their fault.

"Unfortunately we have had quite a few no shows. We have also had the situation where parties are turning up but there are less people than who originally booked.

"It’s difficult for us because we don’t know what to order in stock-wise from our suppliers.

"We need clear clarification of the next steps because we have a lot to deal with and we don’t need uncertainty. I just feel there is an injustice with hospitality we are always the scapegoat.”

Alan Mitchell, Fife Chamber of Commerce, added: “Hospitality, tourism, leisure and retail businesses in Fife have seen the same avalanche of cancelled bookings and lost business as their counterparts across the country.

"They have taken a huge financial hit, at the time when they expected to be at their busiest. Even the most conservative estimate of their trading losses over the last fortnight will dwarf the paltry compensation that has been promised to them by the Scottish Government. Some firms will not survive, and many more will take a long time to rebuild their finances.”

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