The latest clampdown on social contact today (Tuesday September 22) as part of the pandemic emergency has sparked protest and concern.
UKHospitality in Scotland has called for a package of targeted support for the industry to help it cope with further measures which restrict trade and hamper viability and clarity on the detail of the additional restrictions imposed on hospitality and licensed businesses today.
The trade body has warned that job losses and business failures will be an inevitability unless support is immediate and wide-ranging.
This came as a nationwide ban on Scots visiting other households was introduced to stem the rising tide of Coronavirus cases, meaning millions of people living on their own, face possibly many months more of isolation.
UKHospitality Executive Director in Scotland, Willie Macleod said: “These restrictions are a further, potentially fatal, blow for many hospitality businesses. In isolation, they may appear moderate, but the cumulative effect is going to be hugely damaging. Consumer confidence is going to take another hit and we cannot hope to recover while confidence remains low.
“Scottish Government encouragement for working from home is going to hit city centre hospitality very hard. These businesses have already lagged behind as office workers and tourists have stayed away and they are going to take another battering.
“Although Scottish Government will review the further restrictions announced today in three weeks time, it is disheartening that they are potentially in place for the medium term and will affect business trading over the mid-term break and as the Festive period approaches. Lots of businesses will not survive this and we are going to see more and more people lose their jobs unless we have the support to counterbalance these restrictions.
“The Governments at Westminster and Holyrood must immediately announce an exhaustive package of financial support, otherwise our sector is facing ruin. Employment support must be extended. The furlough scheme is already winding down and it comes to a complete halt at the end of October. Unless it is extended for our sector, businesses are inevitably going to have to make staff redundant. We are looking at a steady stream of job losses for six months, otherwise.
“We also must have longer-term support to enable businesses to rebuild in 2021. The VAT cut for the sector must be extended as must the business rates holiday. We also need a rent-debt settlement package, otherwise whole businesses are going to go under with widespread redundancies.”
Shadow Health Secretary Donald Cameron raised concerns with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon that further lockdowns could lead to already delayed operations being further delayed.
Mr Cameron questioned the First Minister earlier today about the significant backlog in scheduled operations which he feared could become insurmountable.
Speaking later, the Highlands and Islands MSP said: “It is incredibly important that the Scottish Government has a plan that takes into account the extra strain that will be put on the NHS by the rising number of Covid-19 cases.
“Here in the Highlands and Islands, where we have a relatively large proportion of older people who are vulnerable to a respiratory disease like Covid-19, we could face a major problem with people with other medical conditions, who would normally need hospital treatment, not being attended to.
“It’s right that we respond to the threat of the second wave but we must not overlook the impact this could have on very vulnerable people who desperately need attention.”
Highlands and Islands Labour MSP, Rhoda Grant, said: “It is clear that we cannot let this rise in cases go unchecked, having seen what happened in our communities and care homes earlier this year.
“I know it will be difficult for people not to have family and friends in their homes. Sadly, I fear there will be more jobs losses particularly in the hospitality and tourism industries due to the 10 pm curfew. Many of these businesses are hardly managing at the moment.
“The UK Government must now look at extending the furlough scheme and help for the self-employed. Businesses must be supported through this as many are already on a cliff edge and this could well tip them over.
“I do hope that these measures will also help the NHS restart services that have been postponed due to the pandemic.
“Our testing system is not world leading and this must change. Testing and tracing is the only way to control the spread of Covid-19.”