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Red card or just a menu and drinks list please


Good morning lovely people

Who would have thought that 72 hours of super league turmoil could have resulted in the best fans’ win ever. Football success looked like it matched our world too, until 6pm “again” on a Friday night.

In summary:
Friday 16th April, the hospitality industry tried to decipher new “draft” guidance.

They were correctly questioned, as they presented significant changes.

Tuesday 20th, FM confirmed “nothing had changed”. If that had been the case, as far as we were able to interpret, every restaurant that had previously been signed off by a Covid EH officer would have been non compliant and in breach of the guidelines last year.

Wednesday 21st, the Cabinet Secretary shared a clarification letter, and we understood that we were back to where we were before the “draft” was issued.

One week later on Friday 24th at 6pm a new notice was posted which took us back to the previous Friday “draft”.

No other sector has been faced with such shifting goal posts and pitch size, especially at such short notice.

I appreciate the nation’s health and well-being is paramount but I feel our industry’s economic health and well-being and ultimately hospitality family’s health and well-being needs to now be treated as equally important.

I say this as much in the spirit of equity as necessity.  The inconsistency across how social distancing is being policed and disciplined while hospitality is being issued yellow cards, has to be openly discussed.

Last week I spoke to more fellow restaurateurs and chefs than I probably have for years. It’s not often you see people overwhelmed with anxiety.  The mental stress that the sector has been carrying came much closer to the surface last week and stories of suicides, business closures and mental breakdowns were shared because the burden to continue to carry them had become too great for many.

The sector has been accused of scaremongering and meddling.  Putting profits before lives.  Families’ homes will be the collateral damage for many small businesses if they can’t trade at the levels they were reduced to last year.  The confusion is not just affecting business owners it’s affecting the whole workforce. We know of many hospitality teams being refused mortgages as our industry is being classed as high risk.  If we can’t trade at the same capacity as last year or have further closures there will be thousands of redundancies and business failures.  Extra time is coming to an end.  Many in the sector feel a sense of unconscious disregard for hospitality’s economic Covid cost.   This isn’t relegation to the second division, this is potentially no hospitality league at all.

Government borrowing is now 5 times higher than this time last year.  There are many businesses that are carrying proportional levels of debt. There will be no bank that will write off this burden; new administration to pass it onto or no Russian billionaire to buy the club.  The only solution for business will be to trade.  Business failure is not an acceptable cost.   By trading and generating income the sector will be able to repay these debts and contribute to the economy and our communities.

Someone more knowledgeable than me said “the pill will be worse than the ill”. We’re not off the pitch due to injury but this overdose of self inflicted medicine is fatal!

If the rules have changed, the wording should have been clear from the start.  Households can dine together, everyone else must be 1m apart?

That is not what has been articulated or understood.  So in June when 15 households are permitted to dine outside we will need a table 7m long?  If everyone at a table and between tables needs to be 1m apart why wait till June to do so.  Why have these protection level changes? Can someone please explain?

As we did last year we will be asking all bookings to confirm how many households will be dining. In many situations we will be able to accommodate 1m distancing for two households but not every table.  Thankfully many households/couples do dine with us, but this is not the case when you are looking at our business community and events.  For the wider hospitality community many don’t have the space we have to work with.

Many many venues in Edinburgh and throughout the country have not opened for a year, Cannonball included.  Each of these businesses are firms or families who have had to maintain the costs of previously viable business.

I’m truly heartbroken for all the businesses that are still closed. While hospitality is allowed to trade tomorrow there are still many businesses that will not be able to open as alcohol is not permitted to be sold inside and they do not have access to outside terraces.   Economic viability is still a massive unknown for many.  We will be paying back the cost of Covid for decades, some will be paying a much higher personal price.

People that stand up and speak out attract as many fans as enemies.   I respect our officials and I respect the dangers of Covid.  I don’t feel it is unreasonable to expect the opportunity for our sector to be consulted and to question the referees decisions.

Our venues are better placed than many to be able to weather this storm.  We have large floor plates, very high ceilings, enhanced ventilation, large outside spaces but many venues will really struggle.  No more funding, further reduced capacity, increased national living wage, Brexit price increases, demands for loan repayments and restrictions that don’t sit with the original business model.   Please don’t show the red card and stop the game when hospitality hasn’t caused the penalty.

I’m confident that we are providing the best dining experience we can that allows our team to have work and self esteem; allow the burden of furlough on the nation to be very very very slightly reduced; to place orders with our suppliers and support small producers; to allow us to generate some income to contribute to our debts and happily create a confident dining environment where people can meet and enjoy great beers and cocktails (outside only for now) and share good food and happy times.

I’m raising a glass (water inside) (wine outside) to happy memories in the making.  I just hope we’re allowed to keep playing with our full team, nobody ever wins when someone is on the bench!

I’ll see you from 10am tomorrow morning with a menu and a drinks list.

Keep well and keep safe

Carina


NEW SEASON MENUS AT CONTINI AT HOME

Yes we will be continuing this service as long as you keep ordering. We’re sticking to George Street menus this week as the team will be focusing on getting back up and running with diners at the restaurant. The teams from all the restaurants will be on hand and we will release more menus in the next few weeks.

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