Contini: Edinburgh restaurateur warns fresh restrictions would have ‘devastating consequences’

A so-called “circuit breaker” lockdown in October would have “devastating consequences” for hospitality businesses in Edinburgh, according to one of the city’s most prominent restaurateurs.

Tuesday, 6th October 2020, 12:30 pm
Updated Tuesday, 6th October 2020, 1:05 pm

The warning came from Carina Contini, owner of the high-end Contini restaurant on George Street, as Nicola Sturgeon’s Cabinet meets to discuss the possibility of re-introducing restrictions to stop the spread of coronavirus in Scotland.

Speaking to the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland radio show, Ms Contini said: “We’ve had a three month lockdown, that was supposed to be our medicine to get the virus under control, to restrict possible further loss of life.

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She said laws forcing the closure of hospitality venues once again would have “devastating consequences for many many businesses - and for our community.

“We are providing a safe dining environment for customers to come into and socialise,” she insisted, “they’re not allowed to see family in their own homes.

“Is this absolutely the only alternative?”

Carina and her husband, Victor, opened their first restaurant in Edinburgh in 2004.

The pair have since gone on to establish three restaurants in the Capital.

A so-called “circuit breaker” lockdown in October would have “devastating consequences” for hospitality businesses in Edinburgh, according to one of the city’s most prominent restaurateurs.
A so-called “circuit breaker” lockdown in October would have “devastating consequences” for hospitality businesses in Edinburgh, according to one of the city’s most prominent restaurateurs.

But Ms Contini said the economic knock-on effect of an October lockdown on the city’s hospitality would be significant.

“We’re a huge employer,” she said, “and we’ve contributed massively to the national economy.

“And we have a supply chain - if we’re not able to buy from our local suppliers, we’ve got an impact that’s not just front-facing.

“We’ve got an impact with our suppliers and we’ve got an impact with our high streets.”

Crieff Hydro Hotel CEO, Stephen Leckie, and his children a special welcome back to guests as they open for the first time since March on July 15, 2020 in Crieff, Scotland. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

Stephen Leckie, Chair of the Scottish Tourism Alliance and owner of the Crieff Hydro Hotel, told GMS that October was “the industry’s last chance this year” to make “any sort of money before the year end.”

He warned that “any form of travel restriction” included in a so-called “circuit breaker” would in effect “be a lockdown for those in this industry.”

If businesses are locked down through October, Mr Leckie said, many would not reopen as the industry faces months of operational losses through the winter.

He added that talk of a circuit breaker lockdown made for “extremely harrowing reading” for those involved in Scotland’s hospitality industry.

“Surely there must be other levers we can pull in order to restrict the spread of this virus,” he added.

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