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Hoteliers in Sutherland join with others across the country to call for changes to restrictions on guests


By Alan Hendry

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Another 100 Scottish hotels, including a number in Caithness and Sutherland, have backed a call for changes to restrictions on guests.

The campaign is being led by Jill Chalmers, managing director of Glenapp Castle, a boutique hotel in Ayrshire. She coordinated a letter on behalf of the Scottish hospitality industry to Nicola Sturgeon over the Covid-19 rules in Scotland.

Tanja Lister who runs the Kylesku Hotel in Sutherland Scotland....see Brexit story...pic Peter Jolly
Tanja Lister who runs the Kylesku Hotel in Sutherland Scotland....see Brexit story...pic Peter Jolly

Those supporting the campaign are urging the First Minister to make immediate changes to the measures introduced on October 9. In particular, the hotels have warned that the rules will lead to thousands of job losses because of a drop in income.

The letter says: “Not being able to sell alcohol in public areas to hotel residents in Scotland negatively impacts their stay and future guests are already starting to cancel their bookings. This measure in particular is threatening the small thread of revenue – a lifeline for many – which still exists for hotel businesses in Scotland at this difficult time.

“We urge you to reconsider this and allow hotel guests, staying a minimum of one night, to consume alcohol in all settings, not simply room service alone. In addition, we believe that we should be able to serve non-residents until 6pm, as a café is allowed to do.

“If there is no change, we have no doubt that we will suffer deeper losses. We are talking about trying to survive, not about profitability. Without this small change in your policy, there will be thousands more job losses in the coming month.”

It adds: “You can imagine the pressure on hotel staff, and the potential threats they might face, having to negotiate with different guests over the measures. It is unreasonable to expect staff to deal with this, especially if guests try and join the wedding groups in order to drink alcohol.”

There are now more than 200 Scottish hotels supporting the campaign for the rules to change.

Forss House Hotel, part of the Original Collection, is among the latest group of hotels to back the campaign being led by Jill Chalmers.
Forss House Hotel, part of the Original Collection, is among the latest group of hotels to back the campaign being led by Jill Chalmers.

The latest 100 to have endorsed the letter include Catherine MacLeod of Thrumster House, Murray Lamont of Mackays Hotel in Wick, Eric DeVenny of the Eagle Hotel in Dornoch, Tongue Hotel owners David and Lorraine Hook, Matthew Logie of Dornoch Castle Hotel, Forss House Hotel's Nick Gorton, and Peter and Sharon Sutherland of the Queen's Hotel in Wick.

Original signatories included Andrew Mowat from the Seaview Hotel at John O’Groats, Andrew Mackay of The Caithness Collection, Bettyhill Hotel's Chris Jeffries, Colin Thompson of Dornoch Castle, Ellie Lamont from Mackays Hotel and Tanja Lister of the Kylesku Hotel.

The letter from Jill Chalmers states: "I’m writing on behalf of over 100 Scottish hotel and hospitality businesses who firmly understand the need for the Scottish Government to act decisively to control the re-emergence of coronavirus in Scotland.

"It is a difficult and narrow tightrope to walk between the critical importance of protecting our health and the vital preservation of our economic stability. In this regard, we are writing to urge you to amend one of the rules in your recent introduction of new measures on the hospitality sector.

"Not being able to sell alcohol to hotel residents in Scotland negatively impacts their stay and future guests are already starting to cancel their bookings. This measure is threatening the small thread of revenue – a lifeline for many – which still exists for hotel businesses in Scotland at this difficult time.

"Hotel owners and leaders who have signed this letter operate strict safety protocols to prevent the spread of Covid-19. Indeed, we have invested, for all of us, large amounts of money to ensure our hotels are the safest places they can be. Our teams rigorously stick to wearing the necessary PPE and make sure that our guests are abiding by the social distancing and other measures at all times.

"Under the new guidelines, wedding parties already booked in are able to consume alcohol yet the guests nearby, and under the same roof, are unable to. You can imagine the pressure on hotel staff, and the potential threats they might face, having to negotiate with different guests over the measures. It is unreasonable to expect staff to deal with this especially if guests try and join the wedding groups in order to drink alcohol.

"We urge you to reconsider this and allow hotel guests, staying a minimum of one night, to consume alcohol in all settings, not simply room service alone. In addition, we believe that we should be able to serve non-residents until 6pm, as a café is allowed to do.

"Not only are we 100 per cent certain we can do this safely under existing Covid-19 measures but it would also enable our businesses, Scottish businesses, to try to survive at this difficult time.

"If there is no change, we have no doubt that we will suffer deeper losses. We are talking about trying to survive, not about profitability. Without this small change in your policy, there will be thousands more job losses in the coming month.

"Hospitality is part of the solution to Covid-19’s negative economic effects and not the problem.

"We are confident we can do what is right and protect the country with this change."



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