YOU could have forgiven Sandra Kirk if she felt in need of a stiff drink as she pulled the shutters down at her Barrhead pub on Friday.

The Kelburn Bar, in Cross Arthurlie Street, is one of many businesses across East Renfrewshire that has been forced into temporary hibernation by tough new lockdown rules imposed by the Scottish Government.

Pubs and restaurants were ordered to close their doors at 6pm on Friday and remain shut for 16 days as part of a 'circuit breaker' policy that aims to halt the spread of coronavirus.

Sandra admits the latest restrictions will have a serious impact on her business.

She told the Barrhead News: "We were already having to turn away regular customers because of the limited numbers allowed in.

"They have been very understanding but the new shutdown is a killer, although I understand why it has to be done.

"Our income is nowhere near what we were bringing in before but we still have bills to pay and we have to pay our staff too. For most of them, it's their source of income.

"It is really hard. We hope these restrictions will only last for the fortnight but there are a lot of places that won't survive this."

Sandra also said she is worried the mental health of many of the pub's customers will suffer as a result of the mini-lockdown.

"We have a lot of guys who don't just come in for a drink, they are coming in socially," she added. "It's good for their mental health.

"We might be the only contact they have with people all day, especially for those who are living on their own.

"Many of our regulars are worried that it will go on longer than the two weeks. They are finding it quite hard, if I'm honest.

"It is definitely going to be difficult for the older guys. They do get support from each other and keep in contact to make sure they are okay, which is lovely. That is the kind of thing people don't see – the pub can be a safe haven for some people."

The new restrictions are also a source of concern for bosses at the RAD Group, which recently took over the Dalmeny Park House Hotel, in Barrhead.

They have said many businesses were already at breaking point.

A spokesman for the hotel, which is able to serve evening meals to residents only but can't sell any alcohol, said: "We can't open to non-residents for food or drink.

"There will definitely be a big impact. We have been surviving since we opened back up but now it is going to very challenging.

"We are still going to have to manage the hotel, with staff for the residents. We are only a 20-bedroom hotel, so there is a cost to opening the doors.

"We would have loved to have known what we were doing earlier, so we could have prepared."

Andy Dunlop, who runs Business Improvement District (BID) organisation All About Barrhead, said it is doing what it can to support local businesses.

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He added: "We're glad steps were taken to allow cafes to open, as these do provide much-needed community services, in addition to serving food.

"If this is one of the steps needed to get us back to normality, then we would all support it and we urge all local people to do the same.

"We are doing all we can behind the scenes to ensure that local businesses have the correct information and support in very trying times. We’re hopeful that the packages of support for those affected can help our local bars and restaurants get through this and we can enjoy food and drink together again soon."

Although many businesses across Barrhead are affected by the two-week restrictions, cafes which don't serve alcohol can stay open until 6pm.

That means it will be business as usual for the Include Me 2 Club, which runs a cafe at the James McGuire Building, in the town's Main Street.

Paul McIlvenny, the charity's chairman, said: "The new restrictions don't have an affect on our Social Blend cafe because we are not licensed. We don't serve alcohol, so there shouldn't be too much of an impact on us in terms of operation but I think it may put people off leaving the house.

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"Within minutes of the restrictions being announced, I spoke to six people and they had different interpretations, so I think the new rules put a bit of fear into people.

"I know this will have a big impact on other local businesses but, if this is what the science is telling us, that this is what is causing the spread of the coronavirus, then we just need to adhere and see if it helps.

"We are just glad that we can still operate."

The Scottish Government has promised £40million of funding to help the hospitality sector in the wake of the tighter lockdown rules.

There will be one-off grants of up to £3,000 for businesses forced to close by the regulations, as well as payments of up to £1,500 for businesses that remain open but are directly impacted, such as suppliers.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said she has had to make "unavoidable decisions" to try to get the virus under control.

"We're trying to do it as best we can," she added. "But don't forget why we're doing it – because, if we don't make these tough decisions, this virus will run unchecked, more people will die."