Glasgow and Moray to remain under level 3 curbs
Stuart Patrick: keen to see lessons learned quickly (pic: Terry Murden)
Glasgow and Moray are to remain under level three Covid restrictions for at least another week because of a rise in cases.
It will mean curbs on meeting or drinking alcohol indoors will not be lifted when the rest of the country moves into level 2 on Monday. Cinemas and theatres will remain closed.
Businesses that were meant to open in Glasgow will be given financial support from the Scottish Government. People are asked not to travel in or out of the city.
There was anger across the business community at the short-notice after many had ordered supplies and arranged for staff to work from Monday. One described the offer of £750 compensation per business as a “joke”.
The decision to allow fans at the Scottish Cup final has now been reversed and it will be played in an empty Hampden Park, causing more anger among fans who say the match could be switched to a stadium outside Glasgow that will not be in use.
The rest of mainland Scotland will drop down to level two next week, and most islands will be placed in level one.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said she had made the “difficult” decision on the back of an outbreak that could be driven by the Indian variant of the virus.
Ms Sturgeon said: “It is inevitable that as we continue to navigate our way through this pandemic, we will hit bumps in the road.
“However, if we exercise suitable caution as we’re seeking to do today, then even though that is difficult, we are much more likely to stay on the right track overall.”
The seven-day rate of cases per 100,000 population in Glasgow is 80.4, while in Moray it has fallen to 68.9.
The rates are above 50 cases per 100,000, a key benchmark for deciding the appropriate tier of restrictions.
Ms Sturgeon and other politicians have issued a cautious reminders around celebrations of Eid – one of the biggest holidays in the Muslim calendar.
Glasgow Chamber of Commerce chief executive Stuart Patrick said: “It is deeply disappointing that Glasgow has been affected by a localised spike in Covid-19 cases and cannot move to Level 2 as planned.
“There will be many businesses that have been planning and incurring costs to move to Level 2 operations and once again they are caught up in developments outside their control.
“We are very keen to see lessons learned quickly about the management of these spikes through testing and vaccination so that lockdowns on such a wide geographical basis do not need to be an ongoing tactic.
“Both UK and Scottish Governments should also review the availability of financial support to businesses caught up in local lockdowns. We do welcome the intention to review within one week and sincerely hope this is brought under control swiftly.”
Andrew McRae, the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) Scotland policy chairman, said: “Local businesses and their customers in Glasgow and Moray will be crushed by the news that restrictions are not going to be lifted.
Andrew McRae: businesses will be crushed
“The damage of this change, especially in Glasgow, is exacerbated by the lateness of this announcement. It means wasted stock, disappointed customers and increased debt.
“Scotland’s largest city has faced tough restrictions for months and months, doing untold harm to local firms.
“While the action proposed may or may not be necessary, pushing it out the door at close of play on a Friday will further undermine independent businesses.”
Mario Gizzi, owner of The DRG, said: “It’s an absolute disgrace. Not only have our plans been thrown up in the air but it’s been done last thing on a Friday night.
“At just one of our sites, The Citizen in Glasgow, we’ve spent more than £6000 in staff costs getting ready and roughly the same in fresh produce. As a standalone unit, all this food will be wasted and can’t be transferred to another restaurant.
“Even worse I’m now having to pay for extra staff in our call centre to cancel all next week’s bookings. It’s outrageous to have these hugely damaging decisions taken by people who have no idea of how the hospitality industry runs.
“When you look at the figures the offer of £750 in grant compensation really is a joke.”
Stephen Montgomery of Scottish Hospitality Group, added: “I asked the Scottish Government on Wednesday for a heads-up about any changes and we didn’t get anything back.
“We’re in exactly the situation we wanted to avoid for the hospitality businesses in Glasgow.
“Here we are a full year on and it seems decision-makers have learned nothing and it’s shameful to be treating people this way.
“Staff are getting ready for their shifts, or have been working flat out to prepare for opening, and have ordered stock. You can’t just turn this stuff on and off like flicking a light switch.”
Boris Johnson issues warning
Boris Johnson tonight sent out a clear warning that England’s emergence from lockdown in June could be halted by the Indian variant that has hit a swathe of towns – but gave drinkers the all clear to head into pubs on Monday.
Facing the nation tonight he said that Monday’s Step 3 easing of restrictions including indoor hospitality and hugs for family members would ahead as planned.
But he pleaded with the public to use their common sense, warning there could be “hard choices in the weeks ahead” if the variant proved to be far more transmissible than other variants in circulation.