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Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce Responds to New Lockdown Restrictions

Posted: 7th October 2020

The First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, has announced today a series of new lockdown restrictions – mainly aimed at the hospitality sector and the central belt of Scotland – to tackle the recent increase in cases of COVID-19.

Here is a summary of the measures announced today:

  • The rules come into force at 18:00 on Friday and will be in place until 25 October
  • Bars, pubs and restaurants across central Scotland – including Edinburgh – are to be closed to all but takeaway customers
  • The five health board areas affected by the strictest rules are: Greater Glasgow and Clyde, Lanarkshire, Forth Valley, Lothian and Ayrshire and Arran
  • People in these areas are being asked to avoid public transport, unless they are travelling to work, school or for other unavoidable reasons
  • People in these areas are also being asked not to travel outside their local health board areas and others shouldn’t visit there “unless they need to”
  • In other areas, licensed premises will be able to open – but can only serve alcohol outdoors and will be only allowed to be open from 6am to 6pm
  • Cafes which do not have an alcohol licence will be able to stay open until 18:00
  • Snooker and pool halls, indoor bowling alleys, casinos and bingo halls will also close in the five health board areas for two weeks from 10 October
  • And contact sports for people aged 18 and over will be suspended for the next two weeks – with an exception for professional sports
  • Gyms can remain open for individual exercise

What new support is there for business?

  • £40 million will be made available for those sectors affected.  The First Minister has said that the Scottish Government will engage in discussion with the hospitality sector and business groups to deliver this support. Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce, through Scottish Chambers of Commerce, will be engaging directly with Scottish Government on this as a matter of priority.

Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce today reacted to the announcement, which will decimate many of Scotland’s businesses – in particular, the hospitality sector which employs tens of thousands of people in Edinburgh.

In particular, businesses in the sector believe:

  • The evidence base on which the Government is making decisions which have such devastating impacts needs to be more robust and compelling. The Government’s own analysis is that 1 in 5 of those reporting infections have visited hospitality venues, and acknowledges that there is no evidence confirming where they acquired the virus
  • The First Minister acknowledges that the vast majority of hospitality businesses have spent scarce resources and significant time making their premises as safe as possible, yet still hospitality venues bear the brunt of restrictive measures
  • There has been NO genuine consultation with the sector on what measures are necessary and NO desire to seek any potential alternative solutions with businesses.

Joanne Davidson, Director of Policy at the Chamber, said: “Everyone in the country acknowledges the pandemic is a serious public health issue and we appreciate that Government has to make hard decisions in the current climate. However, it is an issue we need to tackle together, and that means involving businesses in the process. Taking decisions without recourse to those whose lives, businesses, employment and well-being are torn apart by these decisions is not the way to bring our country through this process successfully.

“Along with all of our colleagues in the Chamber network, we call on the Scottish Government to consult in a genuine way with business, to provide more robust data on which serious decisions are being based, and to seek solutions and meaningful engagement with the business community which minimise the impact and ensure adequate and appropriate financial support is made available to protect jobs and livelihoods.”

Business Comment

Business Comment is the Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce’s bi-monthly magazine. It provides insight on Edinburgh’s vibrant business community, with features on the city’s key sectors, interviews with leading figures and news on new business developments in the capital.
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