The owner of Foraging Vintners has said that the gov’s response to the most recent lockdown was a mixed bag.
MaryBeth Coll said that the decision to go into lockdown at the start of January was a positive one that was made quickly, but that we may have got ‘complacent’ during our long Covid free period.
She added: ‘The communication that was going around seemed incredibly lacking and the vaccine rollout non-plan, especially considering the tourist aspect of it, they just seemed so slow and they didn’t really communicate how limited they were gonna be with access to decent quantities of it.
‘We were talking to the gov recently and Easter is a big day on the calendar for hospitality and there’s no way that we’re going to be able to invite relatives over and I think their policy of elimination needs to be weighed up at some point against mitigating risks and I think that’s really where we’re at. From a business point of view, it just felt a little sloppy I guess, they’re not communicating well and it’s frustrating.’
Ahead of the end of Lockdown 2.0, MaryBeth said Foraging Vintners was not going to open up straight away as its usual January closing which it uses to do refurbishments wasn’t available this year, but she also wasn’t sure how willing people are yet to be sat close with other people.
She said: ‘I’m not confident people are ready to go sit next to each other in a small bar right now. So we’ll see if people are up for doing it but there’s just not been enough messaging about what is safe to do.
‘They’re not pushing local business enough because that’s the part they’re missing out on. I don’t know how they’re going to pay back the £200m if they don’t get people to really support local businesses because there’s a big piece they need to consider around that. The other part that’s really concerning for hospitality in the local economy is when they decide to open the borders to let residents out, if they don’t also let tourists in then the local economy is really going to suffer and we’ve tried to raise this exact issue but they’re not discussing what their plans are.’
MaryBeth said she also had doubts about this year’s General Election and how it will impact on gov policy. She said: ‘Anything that they start doing, how consistent is it going to be applied when we potentially have new MHKs and new leadership, it’s just concerning.
‘Also the government is guiding the policy but very few of these guys have skin in the game, it’s not their livelihood, their income, their investments that have been affected. Local businesses are the ones who are needed to fund government salaries as well as these schemes.
‘I just want to feel like we have a better plan for how we’re going to deal with this and how we’re going to motivate locals to use our economy instead of exporting it all.’