Bookshop owner forced into Christmas self-isolation fears for staff

Despite having both vaccines and his booster jag, Stuart Kane described having Covid as ‘like being hit by a truck’.

Bookshop owner forced into Christmas self-isolation fears for staff PA Media
Stuart Kane: Fearing for staff while self-isolating.

A bookshop proprietor forced to self-isolate for Christmas due to catching Covid-19 faces losing up to £4000 a week and fears for his staff.

Stuart Kane employs three members of staff at his Perth store Big Dog Books and runs evening drop-in community events which are threatened since his self-isolation from last Thursday.

Mr Kane said: “I started feeling ill at the start of last week and had just sort of written it off as a cold.”

He had a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test on Thursday morning last week which came in as a positive on Friday and confirmed his lateral flow test result.

The 39-year-old said: “I am fit, healthy and reasonably young, go to the gym multiple times a week and eat well.

“I have got both my vaccines and my booster shot and this thing has hit me like a truck, I have never felt this ill.”

Mr Kane has run his business for six years and is concerned at the current lack of support for staff who are off but without a furlough scheme.

He said: “The business is just four folk who work in a bookshop.

“We’ll be down about £4000 a week, it’s a very small business.

“Basically how the place works is that up till 5pm everyday it functions as a shop, from 5pm to 10pm every night it is essentially a community centre.

“We do all sorts of community outreach work, we run groups for LGBT, women’s groups, kids that are struggling to read and gaming groups.

“We’re already struggling because the new restrictions in Scotland have meant that people have cancelled a lot of the evening events we had planned, so I’m trying to manage all of that as well as being stressed out about being ill and in on my own.

“I’d just opened a second shop in Dundee and a week later they announced the first lockdown, so that shop has been mothballed for most of the last 18 months.

“The biggest personal impact for me in all this is that with me being shut indoors I can’t be there to help the business at Christmas.

“My team are doing what they can but they can’t cover all of my hours so I’ve been working today on a new rota for next week and I’m going to have to close the shops for two days each next week, which isn’t great.

“If they want us to close the place up and make sure that we are contributing to not spreading Covid, it would only be fair to get some sort of support.

“It is doubly difficult for me as the business owner, if one of my staff is off sick they could be furloughed (if it existed) but I can’t be furloughed.

“There is no support for me as an individual but that’s less important to me.

“I know how much money I would like but realistically it is the changes by stealth that have been the hardest bit.

“The public safety message is absolutely correct: ‘Don’t mix, don’t go out’, but the impact means people don’t go shopping or go into community spaces.

“Then they tell businesses: ‘It is OK, you can stay open’.

“But you have told all my customers not to come in, but because you have not told me as a business to shut, you then don’t offer me any support, I have still got to pay everybody.

“I can’t just turn round and sack all my employees and say: ‘I’m sorry it is the week before Christmas but we have been told no-one is coming in, so you are in the bin’, you can’t do that to people.

“They have to get away from this idea that businesses are some sort of thing that exists outside of the human beings who work within them.”