Business leaders relieved as Scotland avoids national lockdown

Business groups have expressed relief that the Scottish Government has not imposed a national lockdown but raised concerns over the impact continued restrictions will have.

Much of Scotland is in level three restrictions
Much of Scotland is in level three restrictions

Three council areas – Angus, Fife and Perth and Kinross – will move into Level 3 of Scotland’s five-tier system of coronavirus measures from Friday.

The decision for no local authorities to move into the toughest Level 4 tier has been welcomed but firms called for stimulus to be provided to those in areas where measures increased.

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Liz Cameron, chief executive of the Scottish Chambers of Commerce, said: “Businesses and communities will be greatly relieved that a national lockdown has not been imposed across Scotland.

“However, as soon as evidence shows the growth of the infection is reducing, we expect restrictions to be eased sooner rather than later, enabling our economy to reopen.

“Meanwhile, those areas that are moving up a level and those in Level 3 face devastating consequences unless rapid and effective business stimulus is put in place.”

She added: “Progress on a vaccine is greatly welcome.

“We expect the Scottish Government to be working out a detailed roll-out plan as an urgent priority as soon as a vaccine is approved.

“However, until it becomes widely available, we still need to live with and manage the virus whilst keeping our economy open.”

The First Minister announced the decision to MSPs in the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday.

By joining the central belt, Dundee and Ayrshire in Level 3, pubs and restaurants in Angus, Fife and Perth and Kinross will be prohibited from selling alcohol and will close at 6pm, with last entry at 5pm.

From Friday, residents in the three island authorities – Orkney, Shetland and Western Isles, which are all in Level 1 – will be able to meet with one other household inside their homes “up to a strict maximum of six people”, the First Minister said.

Western Isles Council leader Roddie Mackay said: “This is very good news for the islands.

“It is testament to our communities that this relaxation has been introduced.

“Of course the reason we have been able to do this is because people have been so compliant with the rules and guidelines and I would encourage everyone to continue doing so.”