THE owner of a Crossford hotel fears there will be widespread redundancies in the hospitality sector when the furlough scheme ends later this month.

Russell Imrie, whose firm operates the Keavil House Hotel, says the successor Job Support Scheme unveiled by Chancellor Rishi Sunak a fortnight ago “does not make economic sense” for hospitality outlets.

The scheme means that businesses would have to pay 55 per cent of an employee’s wages if they came back to work for 33 per cent of a working week.

Mr Imrie, managing director of Queensferry Hotels, said: "We are faced with a situation of furlough coming to an end at the end of October, the new scheme not being economically-viable for hotels, and there will no doubt be a very high level of redundancies from the hospitality sector at the end of October, which will be devastating for individual businesses and incomes of families."

He also highlighted that the hospitality industry was suffering from a dearth of all functions business, from weddings, retirement dinners and 21st birthday celebrations to the corporate dining market.

He said: "All the large-scale banqueting that is not able to be done has a devastating impact on the revenue of hotels that are in that market, especially the wedding market. It is unreasonable because hotels have worked out a method of operation in order to be COVID-safe.

"We can easily accommodate more than 20 people for events and be COVID-safe.

"Unfortunately, we are not allowed to do so.”

And Mr Imrie said the outlook for the industry had worsened in the past fortnight because of the messaging around the upsurge in COVID-19 cases and the introduction of new restrictions, such as the controversial 10pm curfew, which he said had made it impossible for restaurants to offer two evening sittings.

Expressing the view that “we have to learn to live with this virus” until a vaccine is found, which could be next summer at the earliest, he added: "We have to adjust our method of operation in order that we can live our lives, and our businesses can be successful and trade.”

Noting that the testing regime had proven to be inadequate thus far, he also stated: “In order to live with this virus, we really have to increase testing so that everybody in the population can be tested on a regular basis (so) when you get any suspicion of COVID you can isolate and cut out the ability of the virus to spread."

Edinburgh-based Queensferry Hotels currently operate Keavil House under the Best Western Plus brand, after acquiring the property in 1988.

Keavil House revealed a new bespoke restaurant, bar and terrace in January 2018 after a £650,000 investment.

The extension went ahead in a bid to boost the country house hotel and leisure spa’s capacity to host private dinners and events.