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Where is Ironman or Wonder Woman when you need them?

Living through lockdown in winter is miserable

The FM’s announcement that all Easter holidays are cancelled with a further caveat that there can be no confirmation yet whether or not Summer staycations will be allowed, has left many in a daze. It has left families crying, missing loved ones far away and it has left hospitality stunned (again).

Living through lockdown in winter is miserable, but it’s been livable knowing that spring won’t be far away. Spring always gives us something to look forward to. The Kitchen Garden starts to come into its own, deep fried courgette flowers will be on the menu soon, everyone seems lighter, the weather starts to get warmer, we get excited about alfresco dining, it’s Aperol Spritz time, the days are longer and we know summer isn’t far away. Clearly all this excitement won’t be happening this year!

We’ve long anticipated that the Level Restrictions would be in place when we come out of lockdown but hoped (yes that word keeps coming back) some level of rationale would allow the Levels to be tweaked and at least permit a limited amount of alcohol to be served. What we didn’t see was a potential travel ban within Scotland or the UK. No alcohol in restaurants and localised lockdown are now looking highly likely and the two things that were slowly strangling hospitality over the last quarter of last year will for sure finish many businesses this year.

Many of you comment on my weekly “happiness monitor”. It’s more like my “sanity monitor”. Since Lockdown 1 I’ve (tried to) park the anger. Anger doesn’t serve us well, especially when we’ve nobody to direct it to other than the ones we love. Trying to be calmer has served me better but it almost feels like I’m being calm while we’re slowly drowning. It’s as if we’ve been drugged into numbness or even submission.

Having been writing these weekly posts for 11 months now, you will know my mood and energy almost as well as me. Believe it or not, I do filter the negative. I try to present a balanced, rational and positive view. I know we are more fortunate than many with family around us. We are still trading, however little, and we have a very supportive network through all of you. I can clearly see the many small beauties life gives us. Mentally I force myself to be resilient. But if these restrictions stay in place I may turn into the Hulk!

This announcement coincided with a report, shared by Scottish Government, saying it’s not safe to go to bars during Covid. The report was based on research from September 2020, only a few weeks after hospitality was allowed to trade at a time where guidelines (not an audited rule book) were not nationally applied or sadly enforced. The report commented on the inability of staff to control customers who were intoxicated. Bad behaviour and poor practice in one venue is not a reason to close or curtail the offer of all hospitality nationally.

The report gave no reference to the actual percentage of hospitality staff or customers that contracted Covid over the trading period to December 2020. The report didn’t compare this percentage to other activities the public engage with such as going to a supermarket, taking children to school, shopping or working in an office. Which, if we were to compare, would show how safe hospitality actually is. This one, out of date paper, can not be used to form policy for hundreds of thousands of jobs and livelihoods. And surely can’t be used to shape our permitted behaviour either? Many other studies show restaurants are one of the lowest areas for Covid transmission as they can provide a highly controlled environment, Covid safe, confident dining environment. Bad practice should be penalised not used as a punishment for others. I’m turning pale green. I must be feeling poorly!

There was a feeling that rural hospitality communities would fare well this summer. Staycations would be the new vacation! However with travel restrictions in place, both our city centres and our rural hospitality communities are looking more fragile than ever.

Let’s be honest, (I always am) we can all cope without a holiday to Dubai. We’ve never been. We might be missing out on the best thing ever but I think we can survive. I would be far more tempted by a trip to Skye, it could easily be the new Seychelles for many (not been to the Seychelles either) but if people aren’t permitted to travel outside their council area where is the light in the tunnel for any hospitality or retail business?

At times this all feels like a disaster movie. Armageddon, The Day After Tomorrow, Die Hard (Carla says La La Land was a disaster movie too, yes I agree with her on that one, we only like happy endings at Casa Contini), but in even the worst movies there is always a hero. You may not like The Rock or Bruce Willis, but the disaster always passes and life returns to normal with a great theme tune, a wide screen sunset or sunrise, a smouldering kiss and some funny off cuts.

This has gone on for so long it feels like we’re right in the middle of a DC or Marvel fantasy film. This was no fantasy we’d ever choose. We’re at the part when the popcorn is finished, the sound has got louder and the maximum jeopardy siren has been switched on. Superman is in a box andThor has a hangover. Oh no!

We really need Batman, I’m sure he could sort Covid or maybe Dr Strange? If Nicola manages to eliminate the virus in Scotland she’ll be known as SuperNippy or SuperSweety depending on your politics.

Keep well and keep safe and keep believing this horror story will not have any more sequels, this lockdown trilogy is all us mortals can cope with.

Thank you, thank you, thank you as always.

Carina


CONTINI AT HOME

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