The FM’s announcement this week gives little further clarity to be able to draft what the future of our business will look like. Many felt the PMs announcement gave confidence to plan a start while FMs announcement the day later put a stop to that.
This is the part of the question that I struggle with the most. Do our politicians know how hard it is to have your business on STOP for so long?
Our hospitality colleagues across Scotland are frustrated and nervous as to what the future will really look like. We are largely seasonal businesses and we are businesses with immobile capital. Our assets are tried to our venues and without the ability to trade they become redundant and economically crippling. The lost months we’ve already faced look like only part of the final timeframe.
It’s exhausting, and while last week I felt like we were drugged into submission, this week I feel like we’re walking to the scaffold with the blindfold off and the crowds have gathered.
We are faced with a further 10 weeks of the unknown.
England, whether you agree or not, has been given a plan for recovery. Businesses south of the border can start focusing again on what their future will look like. In Scotland, we’ve been left waiting, wanting and on stop. Add the fact that our Covid rates are much lower north of the border, it has left us all feeling confused as to the strategy?
Making matters worse the FM, unlike the PM, gave no mention of hospitality events, conferences, theatres, concerts and our festivals, all of which are vital for our sector and our wider community.
What do we know?
We know that hospitality and retail will be allowed to open from 26th April.
We know that the Level Restrictions will be in place across Scotland from that date.
What we don’t know is…
Will we be able to travel?
Will hospitality indoors be permitted to trade or will it be outdoors only?
What Level will we be placed in and what will those restrictions look like?
When will we be able to open for dinner service?
When will we be able to sell alcohol?
When will we be able to serve a table or more than 6?
When will we be able to allow more than two households to dine together?
What are the rules around weddings and events?
Are we any further forward? Only a little. Actually it’s worse than I thought it could be. The lack of a four nations approach to coming out of this creates a hugely unfair playing field. But fairness aside, it’s potentially creating trading conditions that will be uneconomical for the vast majority. We appreciate the FM’s caution and focus on protecting the NHS but the lack of a start date is painful for many.
As I’ve said consistently, we’re very fortunate that we’ve not lost any of our family or friends to Covid. If I had, my views may be very different. Victor and I and our team have followed all the guidelines, to the letter, we’ve been exceptionally cautious and applied best practice, respecting the loss and risk that many of our community have faced. However, the further losses hospitality are facing really begs us to ask the question of who are we now trying to protect?Could this be the last straw for many is tourism, events, hotels, restaurants, bars and nightclubs and the many subsidiary businesses that support them that are currently closed. These further uncertainties could keep them on stop for good.
The next 10 weeks are going to feel longer than the last.
So what are we going to do?
We’re going to have to pace ourselves. Our initial 2 week Contini At Home plan that will now extend to a 4 month plan has been refreshed and we hope you like it. The health and well being of the team needs further consideration, maintenance issues have to be tackled and we need to plan our grand reopening for each of our beautiful venues. We will open at some stage, that much we know, but what will that look like? We’re not changing everything but we need to review, refresh, reenergise. The team loves doing this, this is the thrill that keeps us all going. A new fresh start is exciting, whatever the circumstances.
Many restaurants have opened their reservations. We feel we can’t do this until we get more clarity so please bear with us. Maybe next week we can share some good news. We are so looking forward to be able to share that our reservations are no longer on stop but very much OPEN and ready to START looking after you all again.
Keep well, keep safe and better news will follow soon.
Thank you as ever for all your support. It is so greatly appreciated by all our team.
PS. TELEPHONE LINES OPEN
We listen. Some of you have mentioned that you don’t like ordering online. To support you we’ve decided to open our telephone line on Wednesdays to receive your orders. If you find the online shop challenging please call 0131 225 1550 Tuesday to Friday between 12 noon and 6pm, option 1.
NEW MENUS AT CONTINI AT HOME
We’ve drafted our new menus and we think you’re going to love them. Yes we’ve kept some favourites so don’t worry.
East coast crab risotto, white onion Veloute, The Scottish Cafe luxury Isle of Mull macaroni & cheese, new season rhubarb and pistachio trifle. Many favourites from each of our three restaurants for you to enjoy.
We’re going to run with menus for the month of March but keep tuned as we’ll be adding specials from time to time based on availability.
Mothers day is always a special day.