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New lockdown

More help ‘should be on offer’ to Aberdeen business

Aberdeen

Aberdeen is facing a ‘devastating blow’

Business leaders called for government at all levels to help smaller businesses and the self-employed affected by the new lockdown in Aberdeen.

Andrew McRae, Scottish policy chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, said this should include further financial support if it becomes necessary.

“Critically, FSB also wants to see crystal clear communications from policymakers to firms in the city,” he said after First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced the reimposition of lockdown restrictions, including the closure of pubs and restaurants, from 5pm today for at least the next seven days.

She described the outbreak of coronavirus cases as a “significant outbreak” which may involve some community transmission.

In addition to the Hawthorn Bar, which had been the source of a recent cluster of cases, 20 other licensed premises are part of the contact tracing exercise.

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The Scottish Tourism Alliance described new lockdown as a devastating blow to the many hospitality businesses which have invested significant amounts of money in reopening and providing a safe experience to their staff and the public.

“Today’s news comes as a shock and should serve as a reminder that disregarding these guidelines has almost immediate consequences,” it said in a statement.

“However we must also recognise that many people and businesses are enjoying the easing of restrictions in a safe way that poses little threat to public safety.

“Further sector specific support will be required in the short to medium to enable hospitality businesses to continue to trade beyond this period of instability and retain jobs in our local economies.”

Tracy Black, CBI Scotland director, said: “Aberdeen won’t be the last local area that faces renewed restrictions in the coming months, so the Scottish Government must do everything it can to provide clear, timely advice and appropriate support to firms and individuals. That’s a must to maintain public confidence.

“This will be a particular blow to the local hospitality sector, which has now faced a double-whammy of lockdowns, and emphasises the need for government support to evolve in-line with the trajectory of the virus.”

Liz Cameron, CEO of the Scottish Chambers of Commerce, added: “Further targeted government support will be required for all businesses affected, specifically those in indoor and outdoor hospitality who have been ordered to close tonight in Aberdeen.

“It is also vital that there is as clear communications and guidance from the government and local authority as possible.”

The Scottish government, in line with the local health team and Aberdeen City Council, has agreed the following new advice:

  • People should not travel more than five miles for leisure purposes
  • Travelling for work or education is permitted, but other travel is not advised
  • Do not travel to Aberdeen
  • Do not go into each others’ houses (with the exception of extended household groups)
  • All indoor and outdoor hospitality in the city to close tonight, which will be enforced if necessary

Scottish Labour’s deputy leader Jackie Baillie asked  why John Swinney has been tasked with leading the response to this outbreak “while his education brief is in utter disarray”. 

See also: Response to Higgins report



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