Following the announcement by the First Minister of new measures restricting hospitality sector businesses to prevent the spread of Covid-19 in Scotland, Dr Liz Cameron, Chief Executive of the Scottish Chambers of Commerce, has responded.
On restrictions to pubs, bars, restaurants and cafes:
“These measures will sound the death knell for businesses across the hospitality sector, especially pubs and bars. Restaurants and hotels, whilst remaining open, will also be constrained on what they can provide and this will place a large dent in their already reduced income.
“Closures and restrictions will severely tamp down any signs of life in our town centres, particularly in the central belt health board areas, which have already been devastated by offices still remaining closed, cancellation of Christmas markets and other major events.
“While the stay local message may align with public health messaging, it will impact nationwide support for hospitality businesses during the October holiday period. The knock-on impact will mean tough decisions including the risk of potentially more redundancies.”
On business engagement and consultation, Liz Cameron continued:
“A complete and utter lack of consultation with business only serves to compound the blows of these restrictions.
“In the vast majority of cases, the recent growth and spread of the virus is not coming from business-managed environments. In most instances, employers are playing an effective and deeply engaged role in the fight against the spread of the virus.
“We simply cannot continue to keep switching the lights of the economy on and off.
“Where is the plan to show that this action will stop the spread and where is the plan to manage to work and living with the risks of this pandemic in the medium term are questions businesses are asking.”
On funding support for businesses, Liz Cameron said:
“We now need to see a firm commitment from the UK Government as to what immediate support is going to be available to support businesses recovery.
“The funding package announced by the Scottish Government is long overdue, but welcome nonetheless. We will look closely at the detail of these packages but we fear they will not be enough to avoid the worst of consequences for the Scottish economy.
“We also need to ensure those businesses that have not been able to reopen yet such as soft play are also able to access this lifeline support.”