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Looking Back on Lockdown – August


By Gregor White

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Gym owner Dan Moore was delighted at getting the go-ahead to reopen. Picture: Gary Anthony
Gym owner Dan Moore was delighted at getting the go-ahead to reopen. Picture: Gary Anthony

Diners flocked to city restaurants as cases of coronavirus began to hit schools when children returned to class.

The Red Hot Highland Fling and other winter events in Inverness were cancelled. Picture: James MacKenzie
The Red Hot Highland Fling and other winter events in Inverness were cancelled. Picture: James MacKenzie

The cancellation of all winter event traditionally held in Inverness was announced by Highland Council.

Hogmanay's Red Hot Highland Fling was called off along with the Christmas lights switch-on, Winetr Wonderland at Whin Park and Halloween and Bonfire Night celebrations.

The decision was a blow to businesses hoping for an extended tourist season to make up for losses during lockdown, but the council said restrictions still existing around gatherings meant planning for the events as not possible.

The Eat Out to Help Out scheme proved massively popular across Inverness.

Providing money off for café and restaurant diners for part of the week as venues reopened it was "crazy busy" at Number 27 Bar and Kitchen in Castle Street according to manager Katy MacFarlane, while R&Bs in Queensgate was "maxed out".

A list of all city eateries taking part in the national scheme was viewed almost 6000 times after being posted on the Inverness Courier website.

Tulloch Homes was enjoying a lockdown bounceback with a 25 per cent jump in sales compared to the same time last year.

The figures for July showed "pent up demand" among buyers according to to the firm's chief executive, George Fraser.

Gym operators reacted with delight after being told they could reopen two weeks earlier than planned.

With the restart for the sector brought forward from September 14 to August 31 Daniel Moore of Dan Moore Elite Training in Inverness was raring to go.

He said: "Seeing similar businesses open everywhere but Scotland has been difficult."

The date for swimming pools was also pushed forward as coronavirus cases dropped across the country.

Inverness Museum and Art Gallery reopened with new restrictions in place.

Visitors were required to wear face coverings, maintain social distancing and follow a one way route around the gallery.

They also had to book slots for visiting, to avoid congestion.

Thurso band Forgetting the Future took part in a virtual music festival organised by Rob Ellon. Picture: Callum Mackay
Thurso band Forgetting the Future took part in a virtual music festival organised by Rob Ellon. Picture: Callum Mackay

A pop-up music event sought to replace some of the delights of the Belladrum music festival after it was cancelled this year.

The Hootananny Potting Shed, a draw for many at the festival, went virtual this month courtesy of independent music promoter Rob Ellen.

The 65-year-old organised the three-day event online, with 50 acts from all over the world performing for an international audience.

Eden Court Theatre secured a £750,000 funding boost from the Scottish Government's performing arts venues relief fund.

In June a Highland Council report revealed the theatre was projecting a loss of 80 per cent of its income until the end of January 2021 and forecasting an annual deficit of £702,000.

Chief executive James Mackenzie-Blackman said: "We can now set about moving from survival to recovery with the help of our colleagues, audiences, participants and artists – those we know and those we don't."

An organisation helping babies and toddlers enjoy the water was forced to close because of the impact of lockdown.

Turtle Tots Highlands and Islands and Morayshire broke the news to customers, saying fitness firm DW Sports going into administration was the "final nail in the coffin" for the group which had used the firm's pool at Inverness Shopping Park for its meetings.

Freda Newton of Loch Ness by Jacobite.
Freda Newton of Loch Ness by Jacobite.

Loch Ness by Jacobite was seeing a welcome return of people wanting to cruise on the loch.

Managing director Freda Newton said while capacity was down, places were being snapped up quickly.

"I believe many people have spent lockdown planning big trips when they are able to travel safely again – and we know Scotland is top of many people's lists," she said.

Pupils from Cauldeen Primary were able to hold a graduation event with a difference.
Pupils from Cauldeen Primary were able to hold a graduation event with a difference.

Children from a city primary enjoyed a last get together before heading off to high school.

Celebrations marking the end of term had to be cancelled, so the parents of P7 children at Cauldeen Primary hosted a "graduation" of their own.

The street party in Hilton included a silent disco and games.

Parents left out of pocket after paying for school trips that were cancelled as a result of the pandemic were to be refunded by Highland Council.

Trips impacted were all booked before government advice not to travel and the amount lost to parents as a result was thought to be in the region of £290,000.

High Life Highland (HLH) slashed a potentially devastating budget deficit by around £10 million it said.

In a report to Highland Council chief executive Steve Walsh warned difficult decisions still lay ahead for the organisation, but while it had originally feared running up an £11.4 million deficit through lack of income while facilities were closed, it had since managed that down to £1.55 million with a raft of measures, particularly the furlough scheme.

A number of services including music tuition and fitness classes had continued online though there was criticism when HLH removed a 20 per cent top-up to the furlough scheme and let relief staff aged 18-25 go.

Crown Church's Struan McRoberts collected donations for the Inverness Presbytery Foodbank.
Crown Church's Struan McRoberts collected donations for the Inverness Presbytery Foodbank.

A church initiative set up to help through the crisis was finding a growing need for help as lockdown eased.

Emergency project co-ordinator for the Crown Church scheme, Struan MacRoberts, said it was now seeing more demand for emergency supplies.

"With the ending of furlough now comes the time when businesses discover whether they will survive and furloughed workers become redundant workers," he said.

Cases of coronavirus were discovered at two city primary schools, with a teacher at Kinmylies and a pupil at Dalneigh both diagnosed within hours of each other.

Both schools were kept open, though some pupils at Dalneigh were asked to stay away until the start of September.


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