Covid- 19 has left the hospitality industry without direction. St Andrews is a small place and most of its pubs and bars are situated in three streets. The changing restrictions has cost these pubs a great deal. Often it is luck that keeps these pubs going as these rules are ever changing and there is no knowing when they will end.
For Aikmans the restrictions have been devastating. When the rule came out permitting alcohol only indoors, they lost almost all of their business. They cannot move to an outdoor seating, as was acceptable in lower tiers, because of their location, if they did it would only be two tables which would not be worth it. They are just serving food at the moment. Their menu has many options of burgers, fish and chips, sandwiches, soups, and more. More often the customers of Aikmans go there to drink which is why they haven’t been seeing much business. One of the workers says that they cannot persist with these rules.
The same story goes for Molly Malones. Not being able to have outdoor seating because of their location, they were forced to serve a limited menu indoors and takeaway. But that is no longer the case. Business has been slow for them, like Aikmans, most people go to Molly Malones to drink. The pub used to need five people to work a night, and then reduced one or two. This is a large difference in staffing, which can be seen in many of the other pubs. They simply cannot employ the same amount of people. The Keys has had to let go all of its part time staff in autumn. Once things return to normal, they will be able to return to their jobs. This has affected all the students who work in pubs, who either did not get the same hours or any hours at all.
The Keys is largely a bar filled with locals. One worker says this is what has saved the business. There have been a couple of additional tables added outside which has helped as well. It is the customer commitment to the business that allows for the Keys to be open without much worry. They are also lucky because of their ability to have a fair amount of tables outside on Market street. It is hopeful that these will open back up when cases drop.
The Criterion has a different story. They applied for outdoor seating with Zest, their neighbouring coffee shop. The application to Fife Council granted the parking spaces for outdoor seating. Contrary to other pubs and bars, they have had to increase staffing due to the requirements of table service and track and trace. The owner informs us that they were down sales 20 percent after reopening after lockdown. This increased to 30 percent after the addition of the two household rule. Now, he guesses that it will be 45-50 percent down sales. The changes are frequent and it is hard to guess the amount in which they will impact sales. The St Andrews Brewing company has had to apply for more tables outside as well. It is important to note that the pubs who already had outdoor seating are the ones who can add more seats. It is a much harder process for the establishments who did not have any outdoor seating to start with.
COVID-19 has been very difficult on the hospitality industry and as most pubs in the UK might not reopen until April, uncertainty will persist. When it is available, students should continue to support these businesses safely by ordering out or sitting in, within the rules.