Calls for more help as Glasgow stays in Level 3
Liz Cameron: ‘glimmer of hope’ (pic: Terry Murden)
Business groups have called on the Scottish government to inject “meaningful financial support” after the First Minister ruled that Glasgow must stay in Level 3 lockdown for at least another week.
Nicola Sturgeon revealed that the Indian Covid variant has seen cases hit their highest since March and that the country’s R rate may have risen as high as 1.3 with the new strain accounting for half of cases.
Younger people – who are less likely to experience severe illness – now appear to be among those most affected.
Although the current outbreak in Glasgow showed signs of ‘stabilising’ Ms Sturgeon said it was too early to allow for a relaxation of the restrictions.
Glasgow is the only part of Scotland under Level 3 lockdown rules, which prohibits non-essential travel out of the area and puts limits on hospitality and other leisure businesses.
It will mean that the city must wait until next Saturday to find out if it can move down to Level 2. That is just days before it hosts its first match in the Euro2020 football tournament and a huge fanzone with up to 6,000 people is planned.
“My message to the people of Glasgow is don’t lose heart, on the contrary, take heart from the progress that we are seeing,” said the First Minister.
But her words of comfort left businesses frustrated and worried about their ability to continue trading.
Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) Scotland Policy Chair, Andrew McRae, said: “It’s very difficult to run a business, or plan your family finances, when you need to tune into the lunchtime news on a Friday to find out if you’ll be working on the Monday.
“The businesses and employees hardest hit by these ongoing restrictions need proper support now. The Glasgow hospitality industry was given two days to scrap their re-opening plans. But even now, after two weeks, we still don’t have adequate financial support measures in place. That needs remedied as a matter of urgency.”
Liz Cameron, chief executive of the Scottish Chambers of Commerce, said: “The impact of this extended closure will be even more devastating for crisis hit businesses in Glasgow, as many were looking forward to opening their doors to take advantage of the upcoming bank holiday on Monday.
“We need government at both Holyrood and Westminster to now step in to provide a level of meaningful financial support if we are to save jobs and livelihoods.
“The Scottish Government’s expanded test and protect, supported by an accelerated vaccination programme, needs to continue.
“One glimmer of hope is that we seem to be going in the right direction as far as the health harms are concerned but the economic harms are just as critical.
“We hope that the review promised next week will bring a decision to enable Glasgow to move down into Level 2, allowing businesses to plan ahead and fully welcome consumers and tourists back.”
Stephen Montgomery, spokesperson for the Scottish Hospitality Group, repeated his belief that the measures made no sense.
“All that’s going to happen is people will continue to travel outside Glasgow city centre, further spreading the virus.
“We already know that’s happening. So, if things are really that bad that there needs to be this continued lockdown, then this is a counter-productive move and makes no sense as far as the government’s policy is concerned.
“We firmly believe the approach based on case numbers is largely irrelevant now. It’s admissions and other hospital data that should be used and it’s great to see that those are remaining at a very low level.
“With the vaccine roll-out and all the preventative measures that the government has had us put in place, it should be possible to remove Glasgow from these unfair restrictions now.
“It is quite staggering to think that the plan for the fan zone at Glasgow Green is in full swing, but here we have a situation where Scottish Government thinks that keeping Glasgow City in level 3 and throwing hospitality businesses a pitiful £750 per week is acceptable.”