North Ayrshire businesses have been reacting to the news that the region is to remain in Level 3 of coronavirus restrictions for the next three weeks.

Nicola Sturgeon set out the plans in Holyrood on Tuesday, reasoning that North Ayrshire was showing lower prevalence of the virus compared to East Ayrshire and South Ayrshire, who moved into Level 4 restrictions on Friday.

Although Level 3 means hospitality and non-essential shops can continue trading, the reaction from local businesses has been mixed, with one publican even branding Tier 3 a “farce”.

Ronnie McConnachie, owner of Jack’s Corner and the Windy Ha in Saltcoats, said: “We’re the only industry that can tell you people’s name, address, mobile number, when people come in, when they leave and where they’re sitting in the premises, yet we’re the industry to get hit the most.

“The shops in Irvine have won a watch. People in Kilmarnock and Ayr will just travel into Irvine, so now the whole of Ayrshire will be doing their shopping in one town.

“The number 11 bus still returns to Kilmarnock and companies are still running buses across counties, so how does that work?”

Ronnie has vowed not to open until spring 2021.

He continued: “Until pubs are allowed to operate properly, I will not be opening. The real issue is uni and schools being put back. Closing pubs early has caused house parties. If pubs were allowed to stay open, then the police could at least monitor what’s going on, but they can’t check everyone’s house.

“I’m not opening my doors in Tier 3. If I adhere to 2m distance, masks and sitting down in the numbers that the licensing board told me, then I should be able to open.

“No pub should be allowed to open if you can’t sell a pint of lager. That’s not a tier, that’s a disgrace.”

On the other side of the coin, Anne at Small Talk Coffee and Gift Shop in Irvine said: “We’re happy to be open as we would have gone back to takeaway only for the duration of Tier 4 and may have had to furlough staff .”

Lee Muir at Beanstalk gift shop in Saltcoats said: “It’s the most crucial time of the year for businesses so I think it’s a fair decision especially with the numbers being down. But it might drive people to the area, too.”

“We’re limiting numbers in the shop and doing our bit so I think for the next three weeks we’ll be fine. If people are looking for decorations or gifts, they’re going to buy them now. I think people realise we were really close to being locked down.

“If we were put into Level 4, it would’ve been critical for us. We’d have had to do online click and collect and change the way we operate which we’ve never have to do before. We’d have needed to maximise our social media, there’s no other alternative.”