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Sturgeon blasted for ‘lack of foresight’ as coronavirus measures cause chaos for hotels | Politics | News


In a letter to the Scottish First Minister, 100 hotels said a ban on serving alcohol to guests in public areas could lead to cancellations. Under current rules announced last week, hotels can serve alcohol to guests in their rooms through room service.

The letter, started by Jill Chalmers, managing director of Glenapp Castle in South Ayrshire, said: “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.”

Scotland’s leading hotels including One Devonshire Gardens in Glasgow, The Fairmont in St Andrews, the Marcliffe in Aberdeen and the Prestonfield in Edinburgh are all signatories.

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As of this week, pubs, bars, restaurants and cafes outside central Scotland will only be allowed to operate indoors between 6am and 6pm and not serve alcohol, though drinks can be served until 10pm in outdoor areas.

But all pubs and licensed restaurants in five areas – Greater Glasgow and Clyde, Lanarkshire, Ayrshire and Arran, Lothian, and Forth Valley – will be forced to close for all but takeaway service for 16 days from 6pm on Friday.

However, Nicola Sturgeon revealed on Thursday that cafes can be exempt from the central belt shut down during the day if they do not sell alcohol, triggering confusion about how a cafe is defined.

Dr Liz Cameron, Scottish Chamber of Commerce chief executive, said: “These measures will sound the death knell for businesses across the hospitality sector, especially pubs and bars. Restaurants and hotels, whilst remaining open, will also be constrained on what they can provide and this will place a large dent in their already reduced income.

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“Hospitality businesses in the central belt face collapse if these current restrictions are extended beyond the initial two week period.

“We understand that tackling the spread of COVID-19 must be a top priority for government, but return to trading is essential to prevent the economy unravelling.”

Jackie Baillie MSP, deputy leader of Scottish Labour, added: “It does seem obvious that the First Minister did not take businesses and workers into account when drawing up these latest restrictions.

“We cannot have businesses, the workers they employ, and the public suffering due to the Scottish Government’s lack of foresight.”

In response, a Scottish Government spokesperson, said: “We know that protecting lives and jobs is a difficult balance and we do not underestimate the challenge that these new measures present for businesses – particularly those in the hospitality sector.

“That is why we have committed £40million to our new COVID-19 Restrictions Fund to help affected businesses and protect jobs.”





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Coronavirus latest news: Leicester in the dark over local lockdown measures



Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Friday that he was confident a coronavirus flare-up in Sydney, the country’s biggest city, was under control, but he acknowledged a larger spike in cases in Melbourne remained a challenge.

The state of Victoria, whose capital Melbourne is under a reimposed six-week lockdown, reported a record 723 new infections on Thursday followed by 627 on Friday.

The state now accounts for more than half of the country’s 190 deaths from the coronavirus and about 60 per cent of the nation’s 16,304 cases.

The majority of Victoria’s fresh cases are in Melbourne, Australia’s second biggest city.

“The level of community outbreak and community transmission in Victoria is the great challenge down there,” Mr Morrison said on 2GB radio. “And there’s still a lot of work to do and we’re not on top of it yet.”

He said New South Wales, home to Sydney, had contained the spread of the virus from outbreaks at pubs, restaurants and aged-care homes thanks to better contact tracing than in Victoria.

“The key difference is that in NSW … there are no cases that have an unknown source. None,” he said, noting that Victoria has had around 50 cases a day with no known source.





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Runyon Canyon reopens with coronavirus safety measures



Hikers, rejoice. Los Angeles’ popular Runyon Canyon Park has reopened, with additional measures in place to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Park officials have reduced how many people can enter at one time, installed cameras and electric counters to monitor crowds, added additional staff and converted the trail into a one-way loop, according to Mayor Eric Garcetti.

“The new Runyon safety features are not permanent, but will be in place while we live with COVID-19,” he wrote Tuesday night on Twitter. “If it gets too crowded, we will adjust hours or close the trail if necessary. Please use a face covering when near others and ensure six feet of distance with people outside of your home.”

All Los Angeles residents — except for those with certain disabilities and small children — are required to wear masks when going outside.

Recent weeks have seen a gradual reopening of parks, trails and beaches that were shuttered as the coronavirus pandemic began to rage in the city and county of Los Angeles.

However, officials have also been willing to shut things back down when conditions warrant.

The L.A. County Department of Parks and Recreation on Sunday closed another popular hiking destination, the Eaton Canyon Natural Area in Pasadena, “due to overwhelming crowds that were not following the COVID-19 public health requirements.”

Officials have since extended that closure through the end of the month.

“While we understand that trails are a beloved form of recreation that offers much-needed opportunities for exercise, respite, getting fresh air and connecting with nature, the public did not follow the guidelines required, and it put themselves and staff at risk,” county officials said in a statement.

While many outdoor areas of Los Angeles are now available for public use with limitations, indoor parks and recreation facilities — such as gymnasiums and community, aquatic and senior centers — as well as features like playgrounds, fitness equipment and skate parks remain off-limits.

A full list of what’s open and what’s closed is posted on the parks department website.





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LILLEY: Ford government announces new measures as cases spike


As the province announced more than 150 new cases of COVID-19 on Saturday, new social distancing measures are now in effect.

All social gatherings and events over five people are prohibited according to a press release issued Saturday evening.

Exceptions include private homes of five people or more, and authorized childcare facilities serving families of first reponders or front-line healthcare workers — provided it doesn’t exceed 50.

Funerals will also be permitted, but limited to 10 people.

Organized public events include parades, weddings, social gatherings and worship services.

This new order replaces a previous one limiting gatherings to no more than 50 people.

The new cases were reported by the province on Saturday, morning bringing the total to 1,144, including 8 cases deemed resolved and 18 more where the patient died.

The current death toll includes 2 cases awaiting official laboratory confirmation from a nursing home in Bobcaygeon, Ontario where three other residents have tested positive and 35 have shown symptoms.

The province remains on a mostly upward trajectory — there have been 453 new cases since Thursday.

Against the backdrop of an increasing number of cases and strain on hospitals, the province announced they were taking control of purchasing all key medical supplies needed in the COVID-19 fight.

Items such as ventilators, masks and swabs will now go through central purchasing and distribution to ensure adequate supplies arrive where and when they are needed.

“COVID-19 is impacting supply chains across Canada, and around the world,” said Lisa Thompson, Minister of Government and Consumer Services.

“That’s why we are proclaiming the Supply Chain Management Act to make sure we can deploy critical supplies, equipment and services to where they are needed most.”

Ford also announced the province would take aim at those attempting to make extreme profits off the crisis.

“I have zero tolerance for this kind of nonsense,” Ford said of the province’s new anti price gouging legislation.

“It’s un-Canadian, it’s wrong.

“If you’re selling face masks, protective gloves, cold medicine, hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes and you’re hiking the price five times, ten times what it should be — you’re done, you’re gone because we’re coming after you.”

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Fines range from $750 for an individual to $500,000 for a company director, while corporations could face penalties of up to $10 million.

Jail time is also possible.

The premier encouraged anyone who spots price gouging to report it through the provincial hotline at 1-800-889-9768.

The premier said that the government understands the difference between a convenience store charging a couple more dollars for a product than large retailers, and said they would listen to all sides during investigations — including finding out if wholesalers are the ones responsible for gouging retailers.

Ford also ripped into a young woman facing charges for faking a COVID-19 diagnosis to get out of her shift at a Hamilton McDonalds.

After presenting her manager a forged doctor’s note, the restaurant sent all its employees home to self-isolate and engaged in an extensive and expensive cleaning.

“It’s disgusting,” Ford said.

“What human being would do stuff like this? We’re in a crisis and they’re going out there and lying and putting people in jeopardy.”

The 18 year-old woman now faces fraud, forgery and mischief charges.



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