Paisley Daily Express
PLAY FAIR OR WE’LL GO BUST
Angry Pandamonium workers join protest at Holyrood over covid level closures
Desperate business bosses staged a protest over prolonged closures which have left their soft play companies on the b brink of collapse.
Staff from the Pandamonium Centre
in Erskine joined hard- up business owners outside Holyrood to put pressure on the Scottish Government to lift restrictions.
The team at the Pandamonium Centre had been looking forward to welcoming families back through the doors this week after being closed since last March due to coronavirus restrictions.
But with Renfrewshire remaining in level two while swathes of the country shifted down a tier on Monday, the venue has remained shut with its future hanging in the balance.
And workers joined dozens of others from soft play centres in level two at Holyrood to voice their frustration and urge ministers to give them a “fighting chance” at saving the industry.
Owners are threatening legal action over restrictions and are demanding scientific evidence that soft play centres are unsafe be published.
Pandamonium manager Jennifer McNaughton said she has lost around half her team since lockdown began.
She admitted she is “disgusted” Pandamonium has had to remain shut while a Euro 2020 fanzone in Glasgow Green has been given the green light to open.
“We have been shut for more than 15 months and we are getting more and more into debt,” said the mum-of-two.
“Centres in the rest of the UK have all opened up now and some in Scotland have opened because of going down to level one.
“There just doesn’t seem to be any consistency in what the Scottish Government is saying anymore. It’s absolutely disgusting a fanzone is being opened up in Glasgow and we are still not allowed to open.
“We’ve been told it’s because we’ re mu l t i - generational but that’s not a scientific reason.
“I’ve lost more than half my team because they’ve had to look for jobs elsewhere. Why would they stay when they don’t know what the future holds?
“If someone actually gave us some scientific reasons we would back down but that’s not happened.
“It’s shocking the way we have been treated. We are calling on the government to allow soft play centres to open in level two to give us a fighting chance at saving our industry.”
The whole of Scotland was originally due to move into level one this week but First Minister Nicola Sturgeon opted to keep 14 council areas in level two amid concern around rising coronavirus case numbers.
A Scottish Government spokesman said: “We do not underestimate the significant impact this pandemic has had on soft play centres.
“The Finance Secretary announced up to £12million additional funding for the 14 local authorities that are remaining in level two, including £ 100,000 for soft play centres which remain closed. As with all infection prevention measures, we will only have these restrictions in place as long as is necessary. ”