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‘Frustrating and painful’: Business leaders call for financial aid as Sturgeon says delay in restriction easing likely

More customers enjoying hospitality again at The Dutch Mill in Aberdeen.
More customers enjoying hospitality again at The Dutch Mill in Aberdeen.

Nicola Sturgeon has said it is “unlikely” Scotland will move to Level 0 on June 28 following a spike in case numbers – causing business leaders to call for financial reassurances.

The first minister cited a need to buy “more time” for the vaccine to be rolled out as rising cases and hospital numbers have been linked to the Delta variant first identified in India.

Statements made by Ms Sturgeon have prompted several leaders representing businesses and more specifically, the hospitality sector, to call for financial assurances.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon will update Parliament on Scotland's roadmap out of lockdown.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

Liz Cameron OBE, chief executive of the Scottish Chambers of Commerce, said: “The statement from the first minister will be frustrating and painful for many Scottish businesses who were gearing up to make the most of a boom in summer trade over the coming weeks.

“A delay next week will dampen hopes for many businesses, particularly for those sectors that remain closed and may be forced to wait even longer to reopen, placing them and the jobs they support at risk.”

While Ms Sturgeon said a delay in the country’s move to Level 0 would “likely” be delayed, she also revealed that local authorities won’t be placed under more restrictions.

Ms Cameron added: “Scottish businesses understand the need for restrictions to protect public health and it’s clear that the vaccine programme is the silver bullet that will facilitate the reopening of our economy.”

“We need to trust the scientists they’re the experts”

With at least a few more weeks of current restrictions on the cards, music venue chiefs have said they are happy to wait as long as they aren’t punished financially through no fault of their own.

Having raised funds to purchase their own industry-leading ventilation system, akin to the ones you’d find in a surgical suite, Krakatoa in Aberdeen would rather their re-opening was done correctly rather than suffer another lockdown.

Craig Adams at Krakatoa.

Craig Adams of Krakatoa said: “Now we have our ventilation system in place I think it gives us that much more protection but if we aren’t allowed then that’s understandable.

“We have come this far with Covid, I don’t think we should be rushing anything at this point and just ending up in another huge lockdown, it would be better to pre-empt that and get on top of this variant.

“The Scottish Government has been really good in providing support thus far, and we couldn’t ask for more, as long as they continue that then we can continue to hang on.

“I just don’t want to see music venues getting into financial difficulty. Everyone wants to see live music back but not if that means catching Covid or passing it on.

“We have to trust the scientists on this one, they are the experts.”

Assurances for financial support have been backed by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB).

Chairman Andrew McRae said: “Any unlocking delay comes with consequences for Scottish businesses and jobs.

“Hospitality and tourism firms face further weeks of restrictions which make it difficult to cover their overheads, never mind pay down their debts.

“We must remember that nightclubs, softplay centres and much of the events industry remain unable to trade at all.

“That’s why the bare minimum FSB expects is for state support to be proportionate to the scale of the restrictions.

“It would be unforgivable if governments in Edinburgh and London wound down the help on offer for firms while prolonging their difficulties.”

 

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