THE pubs may be open and restrictions have eased but a number of concerns and issues are causing landlords sleepless nights.

Jeff Ellis, convenor of the Fife Licensing Forum, who spoke to the Press before confirmation that Fife and the rest of Scotland are moving beyond level 0 of the coronavirus tier restrictions, said running a pub remains incredibly fragile.

Worries concerning footfall, staffing, supply costs and the supply chain itself have all been reported to the forum recently.

In regards to footfall, Mr Ellis said that it is not just older age groups that are wary about visiting a pub this summer and has queried whether pubs will see a decline in customers when the sporting events come to an end.

He said: "There is a generational factor here in that the older age groups are still very wary of exposing themselves to the risks posed by crowded venues and a perceived general lack of social responsibility.

"On top of that many changed their habits during lockdown and are quite settled in their home consumption. Tempting them back out will be a struggle.

"It should also be noted that there is a general wariness amongst many of the younger generations which does not receive the attention it perhaps deserves, and which also affects footfall."

"The summer of sport has definitely provided a boost," he added.

"How the trade fares at the end of summer when it peters out only time will tell."

Being able to recruit and retain staff is also a "major headache", he says, with many of those made redundant turning to other occupations.

Mr Ellis said: "Others have had a taste of not being subjected to unsocial hours and consequently have opted for a change of direction.

"This time of year, in previous years, the sector would have been making full use of seasonal migrant workers who tend to be experienced, reliable and motivated.

"This has not happened since 2019 because of the barriers and anti-European sentiment generated by Brexit and the wariness created by the pandemic - probably in equal measure."

He continued: "The pingdemic has definitely had a significant impact on the sector. I was told about one business in Edinburgh that was able to open in May.

"After the first week of restricted trading some of the staff attended a house party, some of them contracted the virus and the business had to close for two weeks pending the all-clear.

"It is worth pointing out that there is no financial assistance in this scenario and it represents both a loss of income and an expense if short dated consumables have to be disposed of.

"The shortage of staff has served to increase labour costs at a time when businesses are under pressure from other price rises and much reduced revenues."

While hiring and maintaining staff is one issue, another is being able to source food and drink and battle the increasing utility costs.

"The costs of food and drink supplies have increased in part because of market pressures, such as commodity prices, shipping costs and the like and suppliers are trying to clawback their own lost lockdown income, and in part because of their own supply issues post-Brexit," Mr Ellis explained.

"Utility costs have increased and insurance companies have doubled their premiums - irrespective of whether a claim for Covid-related business interruption was made or paid.

"Some wholesalers have sought to generate additional income by imposing a monthly account charge.

"The staffing issues summarised above couple with personnel forced to isolate has impacted on deliveries and other transport-related services such as waste uplift.

"The empty shelves being witnessed in the supermarkets has been echoed in the wholesalers.

"Beer, drinks and gas deliveries are less reliable which can pose its own problems if a pub has no beer to sell."