The Hawthorn pub, eight PB Dev Co pubs, including Soul, Siberia Hotel and Bar and Cafe Drummond in Aberdeen have all taken the decision to close temporarily to help halt the spread of the Coronovirus outbreak in the cities bars as cases rise.
The Hawthorn, which has been at the center of the Covid-19 outbreak and the case has been widely reported in the media, closed after two employees also tested positive for the virus. The total cluster of cases linked to the pub currently stands at 32, and health experts have warned this figure could rise with 120 people currently self-isolating. Positive cases have been identified with some family members and close contacts of the affected customers.
On its Facebook page the owners revealed the news that two employees had also tested positive. The statement said, “After having our whole team tested, unfortunately, we have come back with two confirmed positive cases. Due to other staff potentially being in close contact, we have the decision to close our venue for 14 days.”
Meanwhile Stuart Clarkson of PB Developments has also closed all his Aberdeen units after a customer, who had visited the Hawthorn pub, revealed they had also been to Soul, one of his venues. He had visited the pub on Friday, July 31st and told the pub group this on August 2nd. The group thanked him for coming forward. Saying, “He visited our outdoor area for a short length of time, and we thank that customer for coming forward with the information about his positive test. Thanks to this communication. we were able to quickly implement additional safety measures.”
The pub stayed closed on Sunday, but not before First Minister Nicola Sturgeon caught sight of a picture taken outside Soul on the Saturday night which showed customers queuing to get in. In her briefing on Monday, she said, “She could have cried.”
Now, in a statement by Stuart Clarkson of PB Developments, has revealed he has taken the precaution of closing his venues. He said in a statement, “In response to the ongoing Covid-19 situation in Aberdeen, and the rapidly growing number of increased cases being reported in the news, we have made the decision to close Soul and all the PB Devco venues with immediate effect until we feel safe to re-open.”
He added, “As soon as we heard someone who had tested positive had visited Soul we immediately sought advice and followed the guidance of the government, NHS and Track and Trace. However, we feel we now need to take the situation into our own hands to help limit the spread of the virus, as these are unprecedented times and things are escalating quickly.”
Siberia Bar & Hotel has also closed. Owner Stuart McPhee has put a statement on his website which spells out the reasons. He said, “Since reopening our venue has taken every single precaution to make sure that our staff feel safe in their workplace; this has been widely remarked upon by all of our customers as to how safe they feel. Today, we received anecdotal news that there is now a member of the public who has tested positive for COVID-19, who visited ourselves on Saturday between 4 and 6pm. We have had no official contact regarding this – from either Aberdeen City Council or NHS Test and Protect – but are putting in place what we think should be done as a result of receiving this news. We remain confident in all of the things that we have in place that we have controlled it within the venue
“Regardless of how many procedures we have in place or how many safety measures we implement, we feel that at this stage there is nothing further we can do to keep them safe and make them feel comfortable again.
“The bottom line is that, due to the current Coronavirus cluster in Aberdeen and around bars in general, through no fault of our own, staff do not feel safe in their workplace. Guidance from both local and national governments here is lacking in our opinion and we feel that there is a need for decisive intervention – we are making the decision to control what we are able to.
“We have taken the decision to close our venue at this point for 14 days, which we hope will give the cluster a chance to dissipate. All bookings during this time will be cancelled. This is a decision that is intended to keep our staff safe and reduce the risk of any further transmission. We feel like this is the right thing to do in the current circumstances and we hope to be back with you in the near future.
Said Stuart McPhee, “Guidance from both local and national governments here is lacking in our opinion and we feel that there is a need for decision intervention. We are making the decision to control what we are able to.
“We have taken the decision to close our venue at this point for 14 days, which we hope will give the cluster a chance to dissipate.”
Cafe Drummond has also closed saying, “The safety of our team and customers is the most important thing for us and at present it seems that this is the sensible course of action to help stop the spread of the virus in the city and surrounding areas.”
Susan Young, Editor for the DRAM comments, “The decision to close the Aberdeen pubs is the right one – they have taken the decision for all the right reasons. This is not a blame game – this is a virus that unfortunately spreads and quickly. Every licensee in the country is looking on, thinking ‘there but for the grace of God’ not because they are not adhering to all the Government guidance but because if this can happen when you are – it means everyone has to be on full alert all the time. ”
She added, “It shows the importance of Test and Protect and all venues should be taking details. If customers will not give them, turn them away. The Aberdeen licensees are doing, and have done, the right thing. As for any licensed business not adhering – you are letting yourself down, your fellow hospitality operators down and your employees and your customers down. There is no excuse.”
Other positive cases in the Aberdeen area have been identified at Deeside Golf club and The Cock and Bull near Balmedie.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has made it quite clear she will if, if she has to, close pubs down again.