Restaurants – Let’s Stay Together

Lovin’ you ever, whether, times were good or bad, happy or sad…

Al GreenThe Today programme aside, at home I listen to radio relatively rarely. One exception is the occasional half hour of Steve Wright’s Sunday Love Songs. Today featured the mellifluous (note to self – must look that up in the dictionary) tones of the Reverend Al Green singing Let’s Stay Together. For no obvious reason (my mind works in most mysterious ways), I started thinking about restaurants. Part of it was an echo of Stephen Jardine’s article in Saturday’s Scotsman newspaper; part of it from a recently cancelled lunch date. There is probably no one in the country unaffected by the current COVID 19 crisis. In many cases the concerns do indeed represent a clear and present danger; however, many of them are just plain daft. Sales of Corona beer have plummeted. 38% of Americans polled said they were afraid to drink it. The value of investments in stock markets has plunged – but only if you’re stupid enough to sell unnecessarily.

And what of restaurants? The news is not good. One hears that bookings are way down, with ever increasing Boarded up restaurantnumbers of cancellations. Let me pose one simple question. Why? For most healthy folk, the Corona virus is no worse than a mild flu. You have to be pretty close to someone to catch it in the first place. If, in the past, you heard a bad cough emanating from the other side of a restaurant, was your instinctive reaction to up sticks and run? Thought not. So what is the problem about eating out in a place with well spaced tables, provided you are washing your hands or using sanitiser? Perhaps I’m being naive or over simplistic, but I just don’t see it. For me, the real danger is of places going out of business. We have a pandemic which, the experts tell us, is not going to peak for another three months or so.

Now, you may say that you heard it on the radio that we should stop visiting restaurants. FAKE NEWS! On Monday, in their press briefings, both the Prime Minister and the First Minister advised us to avoid pubs, clubs and places of entertainment. In a manner which might have been described as lazy, were it not so important, the media casually added the phrase and restaurants. It’s not the official advice, and, in the case of well run premises, managed by responsible people with excellent hygiene standards, it wouldn’t be necessary advice.

When the good and happy times return, will you be able to celebrate at your wee independent eatery? Well maybe – it it’s still there. And once it’s gone, it’s gone.

So while these times are sad and bad, my advice is to stay together with your local favourite.


PS  In the interests of balance, I should point out that the latest Government bulletin does indeed mention restaurants. See the link in the comment by my friend Allan Stewart.


  1. Michael Greenlaw on 18th March 2020 at 10:57 pm

    I agree with you Tom however, if we were to think of ourselves as being already infected (which I no we’re not) and then to live our lives as if this is the case – we would therefore want to retain that “social distance” with others as a way of reducing the rate of spread.
    I suppose therefore go to the restaurant but don’t sit too close to others.

  2. Allan Stewart on 19th March 2020 at 10:23 am

    It’s certainly true that restaurants are taking a big hit – Nick Nairn was talking yesterday (BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland) about the difficulties his new place in Bridge of Allan is encountering. I’d expect Mr Nairn will have the highest standards in every sense but lurking under the word “restaurant” comes a host of chains that – yes – in extremis I would eat in – high standards? errmm maybe not but they are still restaurants. So eventually the official advice was firmed up thusly:

    As a person in a high-risk group (over 72 and with a past history of asthma (or at least a respiratory complaint originally diagnosed as asthma)) I am advised to go out – for walks in open spaces, but to avoid mixing in social groups and only go out for essential trips to the supermarket for the weekly shop (wherein there’s little left as the locust-like hoarders have preceded slothful old me at 07.00 – but enough of that!). So I’m afraid I have to admit to being one of the ones who is avoiding restaurants. I take the point about widely-spaced tables etc but this damn virus can actually be spread on surfaces, so your plates, cutlery, glasses, cups etc may harbour a hitch-hiker (or 10 million). So with the greatest reluctance I have to avoid all restaurants (indeed any social situation). It’s bloomin’ boring but there’s always the garden and the workshop and books and ……………….

    • Tom Johnston on 19th March 2020 at 10:45 am

      Thanks for that, Allan. In my covering email I did say that I would probably be out of date by the time it was received. I note that the Government guidance does indeed mention restaurants. I, for one, shall be ignoring it, though washing my hands with increased vigour. Stay healthy.

  3. Mark Baird on 19th March 2020 at 3:14 pm

    Tom; as someone who is taking all precautions and avoiding pubs,bars, cafes and restaurants for the time being (largely for all the reasons mentioned by Allan above) I genuinely admire your ‘Dunkirk spirit’ and your continued support for our country’s restauranteurs and can only hope it doesn’t come back to bite you where the sun don’t shine!!

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