Covid-19 restrictions soon to be introduced to Scotland could have a severely negative impact on local economies in some parts of the country.
That’s the view of local business leaders in Lanarkshire, who are concerned that some of their urban areas could come to resemble ghost towns in the coming weeks and months.
Scotland is due to introduce a new five-tier system of coronavirus restrictions from Monday November 2 with cases of the virus having increased sharply in recent weeks.
Rates of infection are rising steeply in Lanarkshire and other parts of the country but the incoming restrictions on a wide range of activities, while necessary from a public health perspective, are clearly bad news for many local businesses in the areas being impacted.
“Lanarkshire is a large part of the Scottish economy and a large part of society,” said Alan Kirkwood, deputy chairman of the Lanarkshire Business Group.
“If the main towns become ghost towns it will take a long time for them to recover and it will be heart breaking for people who have spent their lives here.”
First minister Nicola Sturgeon will soon be announcing which areas of Scotland will be entered into which restrictions, with a five-tier system set to be introduced.
Lanarkshire could find itself in Tier 4 restrictions in a matter of days, which for many businesses would mean needing to close for several weeks as efforts to stabilise rates of coronavirus transmission are stepped up.
According to a leaked letter sent by the Lanarkshire Business Group to the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA), around a third of the group’s local members believe they would struggle to survive being closed for two weeks.
Mr Kirkwood told BBC Scotland: “If you close them down for another two weeks about a third of the businesses say they are not going to be able to survive it.
“They are not going to last. It is going to have a devastating impact on the economy in both North and South Lanarkshire.”
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