Fife braced for tough new Level4 restrictions from Boxing Day

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now
Fife is bracing itself for the toughest COVID restrictions as the region plunges back into lockdown on Boxing Day.

All non-essential businesses will close as the Scottish Government introduces tough new restrictions in a bid to tackle a new strain of coronavirus.

The sweeping new rules will impact on how we socialise, will severely curtail travel plans, and impact across business.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

They will be in place for at least three weeks - but come with no guarantee of any immediate easing in mid-January.

Alan Mitchell, CEO,  Fife Chamber of CommerceAlan Mitchell, CEO,  Fife Chamber of Commerce
Alan Mitchell, CEO, Fife Chamber of Commerce

The region was given just days to prepare following the announcement of a faster-spreading strain of the virus.

From Boxing Day, only essential retail can remain open - delivering another hammer blow to the hospitality trade as cafes, bars and restaurants face further closure, along with hair salons, and much of the beauty industry.

Sports and leisure centres, and gyms, will also be closed along with all public buildings, including libraries which can only operate click and collect services.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Places of worship will remain open, but can only welcome a maximum of 20 worshippers.

Sam and Huw with their son. They are the owners of Strength Lab Crossfit in Kirkcaldy.Sam and Huw with their son. They are the owners of Strength Lab Crossfit in Kirkcaldy.
Sam and Huw with their son. They are the owners of Strength Lab Crossfit in Kirkcaldy.

Wedding ceremonies and civil partnerships can go ahead with the same number of guests, but receptions are not permitted.

Funerals and wakes will continue with a maximum of 20 people.

The leaders of Fife Council have pleaded with locals to "stick with" coronavirus rules ahead of the Kingdom moving to the highest level of restrictions.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

In a joint statement, Councillors David Alexander and David Ross, co-leaders of Fife Council, said: “This is not what anyone would hope for over the Christmas holidays but the decision has been made and we need to follow the new rules.

Christine Cunningham Smith and the girls at Bliss Beauty in Kirkcaldy. Bliss has been in the town 20 years. 10 March 2020Christine Cunningham Smith and the girls at Bliss Beauty in Kirkcaldy. Bliss has been in the town 20 years. 10 March 2020
Christine Cunningham Smith and the girls at Bliss Beauty in Kirkcaldy. Bliss has been in the town 20 years. 10 March 2020

"It’s important that we all continue to follow the public health guidance and help reduce the spread of the virus.

"We know it’s tough, particularly at this time of year, but we all have to work together to keep our loved ones safe and healthy..”

But, businesses are still assessing the full impact of another prolonged lockdown – and many fear it could have a devastating effect.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Alan Mitchell, chief executive of Fife Chamber of Commerce - which speaks for hundreds of businesses - said, without full backing, they may not all survive.

He said: “They will be united in the view that this is a devastating blow to business, jobs and the economy, and they will be asking ‘can my business survive this?’”

But he warned that the new lockdown will have terrible consequences for some firms if it lasts longer than three weeks, and called for improved support.

He continued: “Unfortunately it will push some businesses over the edge and jobs with them. It will be the end for many more companies and jobs if the Scottish Government extends level four restrictions one minute longer than necessary and does not make additional financial support to help businesses weather the immediate storm.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"The current level of financial support is not enough. That is equally true of the financial assistance coming from the UK Government.

“Without much improved support now, businesses will not survive the pandemic and many of those that do will be so financially weakened that it will take them a long time to recover and to create the new jobs that the people of Fife will so desperately need.

"It will, of course, mean yet more borrowing and even greater pressure on the public finances, business and personal taxes and public services in the future, when the colossal sums borrowed have to be paid back.”

He added: “We must support businesses to the hilt now or there will not be enough of them left to give us a platform for recovery once the pandemic eases.”

Business owners face the toughest start to 2021

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Ronnie Marshall, owner of Byron Hairdressing in Kirkcaldy, said: “It will impact on our business in terms of revenue, but our clients' and teams' safety are my main priority. I am worried but we have to deal with it one step at a time.”

Sam and Huw Davis, owners of Strength Lab Crossfit in Randolph Industrial Estate, said: “We have been running our business under strict guidelines and been successful in avoiding any cases of the virus stemming from the gym.

“Just like before, we will move our group fitness to an online platform. We are extremely worried the three weeks will turn into six and so on. The effect of the closure on the mental health of our members is disastrous and the effect on our business that we work so hard to build is devastating.”

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Christine Cunningham-Smith from Bliss Beauty said “Like so many, I am concerned about the uncertainty of the time scales. If this lockdown goes on for longer we will again struggle at the start of what was hopefully going to be a better year.

“We try to look at other means of staying 'visible’ to our clients, but I'm sure as we have seen already, some businesses may not survive this blow.”

One of the town centre’s newest businesses is also taking stock.

Ricky Barclay, owner of the new Merchants House Cafe, said: “We are disappointed but we are not alone in this situation and we will continue to try and stay open for takeaway.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“We are a new business and we will do what we can to serve our customers who have been fantastic.

“We are hoping that this won't last longer than January 18. There is no Government help for new business as far as I’m aware.”

Fife Sports and Leisure Trust has confirmed all its venues will shut from December 26.

Thank you for reading this article on our free-to-read website. We're more reliant on your support than ever as the shift in consumer habits brought about by Coronavirus impacts our advertisers.

Please consider purchasing a subscription to our print newspaper to help fund our trusted, fact-checked journalism.