Coronavirus: Macdonald Hotel chain warns 1,800 jobs at risk

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The chain has 11 hotels in Scotland, including the Macdonald Holyrood in Edinburgh

Up to 1,800 jobs are under threat at the Macdonald Hotel chain as it looks to cut costs because of the coronavirus crisis.

The company said that although most staff were on furlough, the current situation was “unsustainable”.

Its deputy chairman also said there was “no realistic prospect” of returning to normal trading in the near future.

His comments come after Scotland’s tourism secretary said the sector should prepare to reopen on 15 July.

Fergus Ewing said on Wednesday that businesses including pubs, hotels and restaurants, could restart with appropriate safety measures in place providing the rate of coronavirus infections continued to drop in Scotland.

The Macdonald chain has 31 hotels across the UK, with 11 of them in Scotland. It currently employs about 2,200 people.

Deputy chairman Gordon Fraser said: “We had really hoped to avoid this very unwelcome step, but with no realistic prospects of a return to anything like normal trading for the foreseeable future, we were simply left with no choice.

“Potentially, we are looking at around 1,800 roles at risk, in all areas and at all levels of the business.

“The government’s furlough scheme has helped to a degree but our essential operating costs, insurance and some wages are still having to be paid, meaning our monthly cash outgoings are still running at £2m while we are forced to remain closed.”

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Coronavirus restrictions have forced the closure of tourism and hospitality businesses

Mr Fraser said that while people understood that drastic steps had to be taken to halt coronavirus, the only way that people would return to hotels was when “current restrictions are eased significantly”.

The tourism and leisure industry has been lobbying for an easing of lockdown rules, particularly the requirement to maintain social distancing of 2m.

It believes the sector could recover quickly once changes are made.

Scottish Tourism Alliance chief executive Marc Crothall told the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland programme: “It’s huge when you’ve got no revenue coming in, when you’ve got to survive and you have to take some tough decisions.

“But we’re an industry that can bounce back quickly and these jobs hopefully will be ready and available for team members who may lose their jobs in the coming weeks.”

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