COVID in Falkirk: Mixed reaction as restrictions eased by First Minister

Residents and businesses in the Falkirk area are now counting the weeks until all restrictions are gone.

Thursday, 15th July 2021, 12:30 pm

The whole country is due to move to Level 0 from Monday, but there are still a few weeks to go until August 9 when it is proposed to move “beyond” level zero and drop almost all restrictions.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, said Scotland was “easing restrictions – not abandoning them.”

One of the most noticeable changes from Monday will be pubs and clubs’ closing time moving from 11pm to midnight .

Falkirk Council is one large employer prepared to support home working for another few weeks

Brian Flynn, owner of Behind the Wall, in Melville Street, appreciated the extra hour but said he was looking to the middle of August.

"Anything that increases the opening hours is a positive addition,” he said. “We are looking forward to the middle of August when things get back to normal.

"I still think we will be wearing face masks in public places for months to come, but that makes sense.”

Grant Fraser, general manager of New Market Bar, Falkirk, said: “Overall, information-wise, the only thing that’s really changing is the hours.

“Apart from that, we still don’t know if you can drink at the bar.”

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The challenges still facing the pub trade were also highlighted by Jane White, manager of The Tolbooth Tavern, Falkirk.

She said: “It won’t be hugely beneficial, purely because of the restrictions in place.

“On a Saturday night my capacity is 72 under normal circumstances. My capacity at the moment is 24 - do you know how many pints you have to sell to make up the shortfall?

“The bills are still piling up. Most staff are part-time or on flexy or furlough.

"I can’t get my kitchen open because I can’t accommodate eaters and drinkers at the same time.

“The Scottish Government is bananas if it thinks people are going home at 11pm. The chat is where they’re going afterwards.

“We need to get back to non-social distancing. We aren’t going to survive if we don’t get back to that.”

Tuesday’s announcement also said a "gradual" return to office working would be put back to August 9.

According to Office for National Statistics data around 36 per cent of the 78,745 employed people aged 16 and over in Falkirk worked from home at some stage in 2020.

A spokesman for Falkirk Council said: “The majority of our office based roles have been working from home throughout the pandemic delivering many different services successfully.

“Our move forward in the coming months will see some employees use a blended approach.

“Those working on the frontline – including teachers, carers and operational staff – will continue to work from their normal workplace.”

From Monday, Falkirk’s holiday makers – provided they are fully vaccinated – will no longer have to self-isolated when returning from the amber travel list.

In level zero, up to eight people from up to four households can meet indoors at home – this is compared to six people from three households in levels 1 and 2 – and up to 10 people from up to four households can meet in a public indoor space.

Outdoors, up to 15 people from up to 15 households can gather in a private garden or public place.

And up to 200 people can now attend weddings and funerals.

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