The stricter coronavirus restrictions in Scotland have failed to make a “significant difference” in infection levels and are causing “enormous damage” to some sectors, business leaders have said.
Aberdeen and the Grampian Chamber of Commerce (AGCC) have spoken as a survey of its members found that almost two-thirds (65%) believe the measures in place are no longer commensurate with the risk posed by the variant. Omicron.
With more than two-fifths warning, they may have to downsize if restrictions are not relaxed, AGCC policy director Ryan Crighton demanded: “The Prime Minister must announce the end of these damaging restrictions this week.
“Failure to do so puts the very survival of many businesses and jobs at risk.”
His comments came as more than three-quarters (76%) of the 170 businesses in the North East, which were polled by AGCC between Friday and Monday, said the Scottish government was not properly balancing health and economic damage with its Covid-19 policy.
In total, 42% of companies have warned they may have to downsize if restrictions continue beyond January 17 – with nearly a third (31%) saying there is a moderate or high risk that their business collapses.
The Prime Minister introduced tighter restrictions after Christmas in a bid to counter the threat of the Omicron variant – with these nightclubs being forced to close again, while pubs and other places selling alcohol had to reintroduce table service.
Meanwhile, a cap on the number of people allowed to attend events impacted football matches and also led to the cancellation of the Hogmanay celebrations.
Sturgeon will inform MSPs of the impact of the restrictions when Holyrood returns from recess on Tuesday.
But before that, Crighton called on the Scottish government to lift restrictions on January 17 or earlier.
“The latest data suggests that the Scottish government’s bet with our hotel sector and shopping streets has failed, despite weeks of warnings,” he said. “We are asking ministers to recalibrate their response since before Christmas following the publication of various studies on the severity of the Omicron.
“Our position is that if you are going to close or restrict businesses, then you have to fully compensate for the losses incurred.
“However, it is becoming increasingly clear that the funds are simply not available to support businesses.”
Crighton concluded: “Two things are now out of the question: first, that the restrictions currently in place are causing enormous damage to a number of industries; and second, that they failed to make a significant difference in the number of cases in Scotland. “
“Where business and government now seem aligned is that we need to find a way to live with this virus – the exceptional vaccine rollout has put us in a position of strength and this new reality must begin now . “
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