Galashiels restaurant ready to go al fresco with expansion ahead of lockdown easing

A Borders hotelier has upped capacity at his restaurant by adding a marquee to the grounds of its hotel in preparation for reopening.

Friday, 26th June 2020, 1:17 pm
Updated Friday, 26th June 2020, 1:47 pm
A marquee aimed at providing outdoor socially-distant dining for customers at Kingsknowe's Hotel, Galashiels.

Kingsknowes Hotel has been closed to guests and diners, apart from the collection of takeaway meals, since lockdown began more than three months ago.

But with the Scottish Government gradually easing regulations, put in place to control the spread of Coronavirus in March, it will soon reopen proper.

In preparation for that a large marquee has been erected in the hotel on the outskirts of Galashiels.

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Hotelier Robert Lamont said: “The marquee will be used for outside dining and if people want to have a drink at the same time then they can do so.

“We are planning on mapping it all out and will follow the guidelines.

“We have been doing take away food and some essential guest bookings for delivery workers, but it has been quite difficult.

“The marquee is not going to be like a big festival. It will be controlled. Outdoor dining can be more dangerous than going into a small shop.”

Mr Lamont, a partner at the hotel, employs 22 full and part-time staff, some of which have been kept on to help with the takeaway service these past few months.

He’s eager to reopen properly to get more staff back to work, and last week criticised the government’s delay in updating the hospitality sector in the first minister’s phase two briefing.

Since then, though, Nicola Sturgeon has provided dates and guidance for allowing outdoor dining, from Monday, July 6, and the reopening of hotels and indoor dining, from Wednesday, July 15.

“We really wanted to do this properly,” Robert added. “We were waiting on the guidelines. Phase two starting was supposed to allow outdoor dining. But we were completely ignored in that update.

“How we lay out the marquee will depend on the guidelines on pods.”