A BARRHEAD pub boss has told how the town’s licensed trade faces a miserable Christmas as a result of the Omicron variant of Covid-19.

Jonathan Wengel, who owns the Cross Stobs Inn, said revellers have been cancelling Christmas bookings in their droves after the Scottish Government issued a ‘stay-at-home’ message in a bid to prevent the virus from spreading.

He revealed that 40 per cent of festive parties that had been booked have now been scrapped – dashing his hopes that the festive season would help the Grahamston Road pub recover from another difficult year.

“It’s been absolutely desperate for us in the last few days,” Mr Wengel told the Barrhead News. “Our first three phone calls on Sunday morning were cancellations.

“When I saw the bookings that were coming in at the start of the month, I was confident we would have a good Christmas.”

Mr Wengel said he was “shocked” when First Minister Nicola Sturgeon advised people to stay at home, just when the party season was getting underway.

“The Scottish Government are telling people to stay away but we are still expected to open our doors and pay people,” he added.

“We still have some bookings but not as many as we did have or hoped to have. It’s utterly, utterly depressing.”

Sandra Kirk, who runs the award-winning Kelburn Bar in Barrhead’s Cross Arthurlie Street, told how she had to cancel the pub’s Christmas quiz as “numbers are down.”

“We understand that people don’t want to become infected and miss this Christmas with their families after last year,” she said. “All we can do is count on people coming through the door.”

Uplawmoor Hotel owner James Smith said around 40% of bookings there have been cancelled.

He added: “I understand why people want to stay at home but for the First Minister to tell people they should be cancelling their Christmas night out is very irresponsible because of the impact on the hospitality industry and others.”

The hotel was taken over by 45-year-old Mr Smith and husband Neil, 55, last month.

Mr Smith added: “If the First Minister is telling people not to go to their Christmas parties, then there should be compensation for these businesses and also the people who have paid to go to party nights.”