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Covid-19 limits will have immediate impact on business survival, leaders

The decision to place most of Scotland in Level 3 restrictions will have an “immediate impact” on the confidence and survival of businesses, according to industry representatives.

Nicola Sturgeon has announced how each local authority area would be impacted by the new tiered lockdown system when it comes into effect on Monday.

It will mean the majority of Scots will be placed into the second-toughest Level 3 grade of restrictions, a move which has drawn criticism from business leaders.

Liz Cameron, chief executive of the Scottish Chambers of Commerce, said: “Whilst the First Minister did not announce a full national lockdown, the majority of Scotland has been designated within Level 3.

“This will have an immediate impact on businesses confidence and survival.

“In addition, the consequences of imposing additional travel restrictions between areas and levels will result in decreased tourism, also impacting on retailing and hospitality.”

Andrew McRae, FSB’s Scotland policy chairman, also criticised how limits to travel would impact companies.

He said: “The travel ban outlined by the First Minister has significant implications for many businesses, like rural firms dependent on visitors from the city.

“At the earliest possible opportunity, ministers must explore alternative policies on this front. In the meantime, they must provide real help for businesses hit by this change.”

The central belt of Scotland currently has restrictions similar to Level 3 while the rest of Scotland has measures comparable to Level 2.

Edinburgh, Glasgow, Stirling and Falkirk will be joined by Dundee and Ayrshire in the second-highest level on Monday.

Ms Sturgeon said: “I know travel restrictions are unwelcome and can be controversial but they are an absolutely essential part of any regional approach to tackling Covid.

“They are – unfortunately – a price we must pay for more targeted restrictions.”

Criticism from hospitality leaders has also been directed at the Scottish Government over claims they failed to engage with recommendations put forward by the industry.

There have been concerns raised over confusion about what constitutes a main meal under rules which allow people to be served alcohol indoors when in a Level 2 area.

Paul Waterson, spokesman for the Scottish Licensed Trade Association (SLTA), said: “We had a similar debate over what is and isn’t a cafe – again we are being provided with ambiguous detail which will cause confusion.”

Stephen Montgomery, spokesman for the Scottish Hospitality Group, added: “This approach is neither proportionate nor sustainable.

“The government must acknowledge that the new restrictions will end in hundreds, if not thousands, of job losses.”

Funding options have also been brought in the form of grants to help businesses which will be impacted.

Not all local authorities have welcomed the grade they have been assigned, such as Inverclyde.

Council leader Stephen McCabe had pushed for his area to be placed in Level 2, with some additional restrictions if necessary.

He said: “As part of the national negotiations with the Scottish Government we pressed that Inverclyde, because of our lower rates, could have started in this new system at tier 2.

“If needs be we could have even accommodated a new ‘tier 2 plus’ if it was felt there was a need for some limited travel restrictions.”

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