THE First Minister has been told that up to 600 pubs, restaurants and hotels in Fife could close due to the impact of the pandemic.

Fife Licensing Forum has written to Nicola Sturgeon to outline the dire threat to hospitality businesses, with a warning that two-thirds may go to the wall.

And the owner of a popular restaurant in Dunfermline has told the Press they're losing the best part of £5,000 a month due to closure with another shutdown looming.

The forum said: "Estimates by independent bodies of the likely casualty rates amongst hospitality businesses have grown from one-third to over two-thirds as the pandemic has evolved.

"In Fife, this would equate to between 300 and 600 businesses not surviving out of just over 1,000 licensed businesses."

It added: "As matters stand, the sector is facing nothing short of an existential threat, such are the unprecedented challenges it is facing and every effort is needed to help ensure its survival."

Hospitality businesses have been hit badly by COVID-19 restrictions on opening hours and serving alcohol.

And it's even tougher as all non-essential shops, as well as pubs and restaurants, gyms, libraries and hairdressers, shut following the First Minister's announcement on Monday.

Michelle Coghill, who runs Jack 'O' Bryan's restaurant in Dunfermline with her family, said: "I'm not sure when we'll re-open.

"They're really penalising hospitality and yet there haven't been any cases from hospitality.

"In tier 3, they only allow you to open 11.30am to 6pm and not serve alcohol, I never understood that.

"If people want alcohol they'll go to the supermarkets, invite their friends round and drink in a place where there are no restrictions in place, no social-distancing and no safety measures to try and stop the spread of the virus.

"It makes no sense."

When Fife entered level 3 restrictions last month, Jack 'O' Bryan's was closed as the family felt it wasn't viable to stay open.

She explained: "At this time, all the staff are furloughed. We're getting £1,400 a month aid from the government which covers the rent and that's it.

"We still have bills to pay, electric, gas, phone, water, visa terminals and they still expect us to pay national insurance and pension contributions for the staff to keep them employed.

"We were getting help with that before but not now.

"We have £6,000 on static bills, no income from the restaurant, we're getting £1,400 so we're losing over £4,500 a month.

"That's the problem and that's why people are shutting down. Now, they're locking us down for even longer."

She continued: "Everyone goes on about rates relief but we weren't paying it anyway. It's only massive places with a rateable value above £15,000 who benefit.

"The smaller pubs, restaurants and cafes with a rateable value below that never had to pay rates.

"We will open again but we'll have to catch up with the bills when we do.

"It's one big mess and I don't think anyone really understands what hospitality is going through."

As well as the pandemic, they've also had to deal with the premises being vandalised by thugs and damaged badly after torrential rain led to a flood.

Michelle said: "We closed on March 20 and with all the measures we had to take, it cost us £30,000 to re-open the restaurant again on July 22.

"We did the Eat Out to Help Out scheme and kept it going through September, October and November, even though the government only gave you money for August, just to get people back in the restaurant.

"We also had to close on August 10 when the lightning storm and torrential rain demolished the kitchen and flooded the place and didn't re-open until August 22.

"We shut on November 16 as we couldn't serve alcohol and couldn't stay open past 6pm, which meant last order was 4.30pm.

"We were losing £2,500 a week."