A FAMILY-RUN hotel has been “plunged into the depths of despair” by the coronavirus outbreak.

The Kingsknowes Hotel, Galashiels, is among the hospitality businesses facing an uncertain future now that the nation has been warned against social contact and unnecessary travel.

The hotel’s general manager Robert Lamont said: “The short-term future looks grim and anything long-term is impossible to predict.”

He added that the spread of COVID-19 - and measures to address it - had caused the hotel to be “plunged into the depths of despair”.

However, pubs, hotels and cafés had begun taking a hit from coronavirus even before the crackdown announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday (March 16).

Hotels in Melrose told us on Sunday that room cancellations had already been piling up.

Trish Henderson, of the town’s Burts Hotel, revealed trade had been “a lot quieter” since the growth in the number of COVID-19 cases worldwide.

She said: “It’s really worrying, very scary - it’s just unknown territory.”

Mrs Henderson, whose husband Nick owns the business, estimated that around 30 room cancellations had been made.

She said: “I just hope we’re going to get the support and backing that we’re going to need because if we don’t have the revenue coming in, then you can’t pay staff - and they’ve got bills to pay.”

She added: “We’ve had to reduce hours and try to cover it as much as we can.”

In the Station Hotel, also in Melrose Market Square, owner Lucille Gray painted a similarly stark picture.

Noting that coronavirus would have a “huge impact”, she said: “We’ve had a lot of cancellations and we’ll have a lot more, no doubt.”

She added: “I rely on a cash flow coming in and being able to pay bills and if you don’t have the footfall coming in the door, it’s not good.”

In Galashiels on Monday afternoon, a co-owner of Market Street’s Starvin’ Food Bar indicated she was prepared to shut the premises if customer safety required it.

The owner of Paolo’s Italian, also on Market Street, revealed the restaurant is being deep-cleaned every day.

Paolo Corolla also said he was considering a system allowing customers to buy food over the phone, before picking up outside.

Mr Corolla’s wife Emily said coronavirus is “all people are talking about” on the restaurant floor.

Meanwhile, Tweedbank Primary School has postponed plans for a week-long pop-up café that was due to open in Galashiels next Monday (March 23).

Primary 7 teacher Roddy Graham said: “We don’t want to put any further strain on anyone at this time so thought it best to leave it until the picture was clearer.”

Asked about the pupils’ reaction to the decision, Mr Graham said there was some disappointment, but added: “The over-arching feeling was that they understand the decision and accept that now isn’t the time to do it.”