A PAIR of pub bosses are frustrated they are still not allowed to reopen their beer gardens.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced last week that more lockdown restrictions are getting lifted.

But the SNP leader stopped short of permitting pubs to reopen their beer gardens, contrary to some hoteliers’ expectations – including those of Robert Lamont, the general manager of Galashiels’ Kingsknowes Hotel.

Mr Lamont said: “It’s very disappointing. I understand that everyone wants to be safe, but we were going to put a plan in place and I think it would have been a lot safer than going into a lot of smaller shops.”

The hotel chief had erected a hired marquee prior to Ms Sturgeon’s announcement, but the structure lies empty.

Ms Sturgeon has moved the country into phase two of the Scottish Government’s route map, meaning people can now meet two households outdoors – and retail outlets will be allowed to reopen from June 29.

However, Mr Lamont, 36, is not completely satisfied with the changes, having expected more curbs to be lifted.

“I don’t know why a route map was put out and then they’re just cherry-picking,” he said.

“I’ve basically stopped watching the news because you get told something different every day,” he added, describing the last few months as an “absolute rollercoaster”.

“We’re just hoping we’re going to get some good news at the end of this,” he said.

In St Boswells, the owner of the Buccleuch Arms Hotel said he also felt let-down by Ms Sturgeon’s refusal to give beer gardens the green light.

Billy Hamilton, 47, said: “I was completely shocked – I couldn’t believe it.

"But there’s nothing I can do about it, so I’m quite pragmatic about it.”

The Buccleuch has one of the biggest beer gardens in the Borders, according to Mr Hamilton – who is also planning to erect a marquee for drinkers.

“I had a marquee organised and we decided not to put the marquee up until after the announcement [from Ms Sturgeon], which was useful,” he said.

“I was all ready and had the family ready to be on standby to pull pints and keep people metres apart.”

With his premises having been closed to visitors since March, Mr Hamilton has adapted his approach and – like the Kingsknowes – he has been delivering frozen meals.

Nevertheless, the Buccleuch boss remains eager to reopen fully, believing his 19-bedroom hotel is suffering from uncertainty about the lifting of lockdown.

A party of 10 golfers recently cancelled their scheduled stay for late July, Mr Hamilton said.

“That’s serious revenue I’ve lost because there’s stuttering from Sturgeon,” he said, adding: “We can’t have another dummy passed to us – we need to know [when we can reopen].”

When Ms Sturgeon made her speech on June 18, she expressed sympathy for the hospitality trade.

She said: “I appreciate today’s announcement will be hard for the hospitality industry, but I want to give an assurance that we will continue to support preparations for reopening.

“Ultimately, this is a social bargain. The prize for going a bit more carefully now is a recovery that is much more sustainable and will, I hope, allow more normality to be restored to our everyday lives while suppressing the virus.”

The Scottish Government’s website reads: “A date for the reopening of outdoor hospitality cannot be safely set at this stage. A further update will be provided on 2 July.

“Further advice from the Scientific Advisory Group has been commissioned based on emerging evidence suggesting communal spaces such as hospitality can present a higher risk of transmission.”