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Ross-shire bars grapple with tightened coronavirus rules


By Neil MacPhail

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The Mallard at Dingwall Railway Station.
The Mallard at Dingwall Railway Station.

Staff at a popular Ross-shire bar attempted to “keep the flag flying” for their customers during the first weekend of stricter coronavirus restrictions.

While pubs in the central belt were ordered to close until October 26 and many elsewhere decided restrictions made it unviable to open despite being allowed to, the owners of the Mallard bar in Dingwall decided to continue trying to provide a service.

Manager Neil Mackenzie said of weekend trade: “It was basically just keeping the flag flying with a skeleton crew.

“We are not making money here with these rules.

“On Saturday we didn’t do too many meals and only had a few customers outside.

“It was quite bizarre seeing customers inside eating and, through the window, people sitting in the beer garden drinking.

“The Sunday roasts we do came to our rescue and we were pretty busy with meals that day, and there were a few outside drinking.

“We have installed a gazebo on the platform now to give a bit of shelter to our hardy patrons.

“If these restrictions are not lifted on the 26th it will absolutely kill us, but hopefully we will be given a Tier 1 ranking up here and return to opening until 10pm with drinking inside.”

In the Highlands there is currently a ban on alcohol sales indoors, with restrictions on sit-in eatery opening hours, which will have to close at 6pm unless they are a hotel restaurant serving residents.

Pubs can open until 10pm, but are only allowed to serve alcohol outdoors.

The Plough Inn in Rosemarkie and Cromarty’s Royal Hotel are among local venues who have announced they are closing temporarily.

Management at the Plough called it “a sad day” but promised it was a “see you soon and not goodbye”.

The Royal Hotel closed yesterday, for 10 days, thanking customers for their “incredible support”.

Related: Black Isle hotel closes for 10 days amid coronavirus clampdown

Thanks for local support as doors close temporarily at Ross inn



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