Geetie Singh-Watson: “Eleven days’ notice for the guidelines is infuriating"

By Stefan Chomka

- Last updated on GMT

Restaurateur Geetie Singh-Watson Coronavirus lockdown The Bull Inn Totnes

Related tags Geetie Singh-Watson Restaurant Public house lockdown

Restaurateur Geetie Singh-Watson says that hospitality businesses should have been given earlier confirmation from the Government about when they could reopen and believes that the guidelines issued to the sector have been inadequate.

Speaking on The Restaurant Podcast, the owner of The Bull Inn in Totnes, Devon, describes the amount of notice given to the hospitality sector for when businesses can reopen as "infuriating".

"The sense that we are ready to reopen on Saturday (4 July) isn’t there," she says. "We are the worst affected country in the developed world, why would we be casually reopening? But we have no choice. How can we stand alone and not do it? We have to follow the whole system.

“Eleven days’ notice for the guidelines is infuriating."

Singh-Watson says that in a small town such as Totnes, businesses need to stand together in order to survive. While The Bull Inn didn't reopen on the weekend, Singh-Watson says she intends for it to reopen its rooms and restaurant to the public on 15 July.

“It really matters if businesses unilaterally decide to not reopen because it will really affect trade. Those ones that decide to open are going to be affected by our decision not to.”

When asked about the guidelines the Government has issued the sector, Singh-Watson says she doesn’t feel they are specific enough to provide businesses with the information they need.

“They certainly haven’t given us a set of guidelines that we can follow and implement. It’s a set of guidelines that we have to interpret and that’s part of the problem.

“To not have very specific instructions means we have to get buy in from all out teams about what they are willing and want to do. If they were just black and white and more stringent in their direction it would be profoundly more helpful.”

Singh-Watson also describes the nervousness that exists among some local residents about hospitality businesses reopening and attracting holiday makers that could potentially bring the virus with them into the county. She says someone even wrote a letter to the council pretending to be her business asking that The Bull Inn’s request for outside seating to be cancelled.

“We have the right to put in an application to open outside seating, which we don’t have, so it involves closing part of the road. We have to consult with our neighbours about that - we don’t want to end up with enemies all around us. On the greater part they are very supportive."

Singh-Watson says she welcomes the idea of people going on staycations this summer but criticised the Government for not doing enough to ensure that the summer holiday season will not bring with it a second wave of the virus.

"We need very careful directive management by our Government that makes everybody feel safe - the people in the community and people traveling - and that is not what we have because we haven't tested properly or completely understand where the virus is or how it's spreading because our Government has not put the time, energy and the finances into it."










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