Fife hotels welcome Government support - but fear long-term closure impact

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The owners of two Fife hotels have welcomed grant aid from the government but they have raised concerns over future finances, depending on how long the lockdown lasts.

Dennis O’Connell, owner of The Strathearn Hotel in Kirkcaldy and Jason Borthwick, owner of The Sands Hotel in Burntisland have both applied for the £25,000 business support grants.

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But both say they will need to look at sourcing additional funding if they have to stay closed after the summer.

Strathearn Hotel, Kirkcaldy (Pic: Fife Photo Agency)Strathearn Hotel, Kirkcaldy (Pic: Fife Photo Agency)
Strathearn Hotel, Kirkcaldy (Pic: Fife Photo Agency)

Dennis said: “We have applied for the business support grant however we haven’t heard whether we have been successful or not yet.

“If we are successful, it should take the pressure off for the next few months however the big concern is that we simply do not know how long the lockdown period will continue.“If it continues through the summer and into autumn then we may need to look at additional funding.

“We are up to date with virtually all suppliers and so we have no concerns there, and with all the staff furloughed, we only have insurance and utility bills to worry about.

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“As yet, we haven’t looked at additional financial support as we would be reluctant to take on loans unless we absolutely need to. The £25,000 should hopefully cover us for the time being.”

However, he did note some optimism for the future of the hotel.

“We are absolutely confident that we can survive COVID-19,” he said. “We are fortunate to have a very healthy function diary and our restaurant has gone from strength to strength, so we are looking forward to the time when we can open safely and get back to business.

“Obviously, it is going to be difficult and, like every business, it will take a while to recover.

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“But we will have to work extremely hard to get ourselves back on our feet but after this time of doing nothing I am sure everyone will be up for the challenge.”

Jason Borthwick, owner of The Burntisland Sands Hotel said he has applied for the £25,000 business support grant which is a massive help.

He continued: “Time will tell if £25,000 is enough. It won’t be for a lot of businesses as this could go on for a long time and that won’t cover outgoings for long for some.

“Banks have been slow to support or in processing applications so we’ll need to wait and see on that front. The government furlough scheme has obviously been a massive help and peace of mind for the industry.

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“We have been fortunate enough to be able to pay the staff throughout this and await the furlough payment in the next week hopefully.”

He added: “I am confident we will survive as we are very fortunate to have a solid regular loyal customer base in a community that supports local business.

“The impact however will be massive for the industry. We will be one of the last allowed back to trade and social distancing to some extent will continue until a vaccine is found which will make events and busy places a turn off for many.

Travel and tourism will obviously be affected for a long time too so it’s an extremely testing time for all.”

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