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Orkney pubs, cafes and restaurants lock their doors indefinitely

Angela Crawford locks up the St Ola Hotel for the foreseeable future on Friday evening. (Orkney Photographic)

It’s a sad day in Orkney as pubs, cafes and restaurants close their doors for the foreseeable future.

The good news though is that the UK Government has announced unprecedented measures to support businesses and workers affected by the UK-wide closures, including paying 80 per cent of workers’ salaries.

The radical move is designed to help stop the spread of the coronavirus, COVID-19.

The closures have already begun following Boris Johnson’s announcement earlier this evening, with popular Kirkwall haunt, St Ola Hotel, closing at 6pm, and The Auld Motorhoose shutting their doors one hour later.

The government’s reaction to the closures and the effect this will have on the lives of those in the industry has been startling.

They will pay 80 per cent of employees’ wages, up to £2,500 a month, who are unable to work due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The wages will be backdated for March and the scheme will run for three months although chancellor Rishi Sunak said it would be extended if necessary.

The first grants are expected within weeks.

It is understood that the wage subsidy will apply to firms where bosses have already had to lay off workers due to the coronavirus, as long as they are brought back into the workforce and instead granted a leave of absence.

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