Scottish businesses will need more financial support if the current coronavirus restrictions are to stay in place beyond the end of June.
That’s according to the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), whose Scotland policy chair Andrew McRae has warned that delaying the unlocking of the economy could have major consequences for employers across the country.
“Hospitality and tourism firms face further weeks of restrictions which make it difficult to cover their overheads, never mind pay down their debts,” he said.
“We must remember that nightclubs, softplay centres and much of the events industry remain unable to trade at all.”
Speaking in Edinburgh in recent days, first minister Nicola Sturgeon said it is now “likely” that Scotland will maintain the Covid restrictions that are currently in place beyond June 28th.
A further easing of restrictions at the end of June has not been ruled out yet but a three-week delay to that unlocking is now expected to be necessary, with the aim being to allow more time for the ongoing vaccination programme to take effect.
A delay of three weeks from June 28th would put the plan for Scotland’s unlocking onto the same schedule as that being implemented south of the border in England.
“Given the current situation and the need to get more people fully vaccinated before we ease up further, it is reasonable - I think - to indicate now that it is unlikely that any part of the country will move down a level from June 28th,” the first minister told MSPs in Holyrood.
“Instead, it is more likely that we will opt to maintain restrictions for a further three weeks from June 28th and use that time to vaccinate, with both doses, as many more people as possible,” she said.
For its part, the FSB is concerned that the unlocking will be delayed and that thousands of Scottish businesses will be badly impacted financially in ways that could be potentially disastrous for them and their employees.
“The bare minimum FSB expects is for state support to be proportionate to the scale of the restrictions,” said Mr McRae from the FSB.
“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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