On the 20th March, three days before Prime Minister Boris Johnson addressed the nation with news of the lockdown, all pubs, bars and restaurants were ordered to close, along with other establishments such as clubs and leisure centres, in order to limit the spread of Covid-19.
Dave Moore, the general manager of ‘The Southsider’, a popular Edinburgh student haunt, spoke to The Student about what has happened to the pub since lockdown began.
When asked about leftover food, he said “Rather than donating it to the food banks, across the road from The Southsider it’s all sheltered housing for pensioners, one of the guys in there took a couple of boxes away to give to the pensioners, so it all went to a good home.”
In terms of beer, however, Moore stated that “there’s about £1000 of Tennant’s going out of date tomorrow.”
This is because the Stonegate Pub Company, who own The Southsider, told him that they did not want to endanger staff by selling on the pavement, and also they are hoping to get claim tax back on the leftover beer, as duties actually constitute 70 per cent of the cost.
When asked about their staff, he added “Everyone’s been furloughed.
“It’s a bit crazy but we’ve actually been very well looked after by the company, we’re getting daily updates from our chairman, they’ve been fantastic.”
The week before lockdown was a stressful time for many in the hospitality industry.
Moore stated that “I think a lot of students were looking at it as a kind of last hurrah so we were packed during the day time (of St Patrick’s Day).
“I actually started to get very stressed about it personally, I had a couple of big rants at people, going “what are you doing in the pub?” I decided that I was going on holiday and spoke to my area manager about it and said I’m not happy about coming to work.
“He actually surprised me how supportive he was, and then two hours later Boris came out and shut the pubs so it was alright in the end.”
Another frequently visited Edinburgh venue, ‘The Three Sisters’, saw staff face more difficult circumstances.
According to employees who spoke to The Student anonymously, staff who had worked there for two years or less were fired by phone call on the 19th March.
Staff who had been there more than two years were told they would be welcome back when the venue re-opened, but they would not be paid during the enforced closure.
This included managers and full-time workers. Once the government announced the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, staff were told that their dismissals had not been processed and they would be paid 80 per cent of their wages while the pub was closed.
However, a long-term employee stated that “The initial response was not taken well (by staff) because they didn’t know what the hell was going on”, while a bartender who had worked at ‘The Three Sisters’ for three months before lockdown said “It’s honestly just been super confusing as far as whether or not I’m going to get my wages, or if I’m fired or furloughed.”
According to Cabinet member Michael Gove, hospitality venues will be among the last public spaces to reopen when social distancing measures are relaxed.
Image: Nicholas Mutton via geograph.org.uk