9th November 2020

The Scottish Chambers of Commerce has issued an urgent appeal to the Scottish Government over fears that the level of coronavirus restrictions is set to rise needlessly, causing untold damage to the lives of people across Scotland.

Tim Allan, President, Scottish Chambers of Commerce said:  

“Scotland is at breaking point and at risk of being strangled for an overabundance of caution.

“We simply must not move into a lock down or a so-called circuit break unless it is absolutely necessary to do so. By the criteria set out in the Scottish Government’s own strategic framework, most of Scotland should be having restrictions eased, not locked down further.

“This is not just about the economy – although it is clearly facing perilous decline. It is about not trading harms caused by the virus, for greater harms caused by mental illness, joblessness and poverty because these can also be deadly for some. These issues must be equally factored into decision making.

“The complex tier system was created to reflect our regional variations in demography, geography and capacities. The First Minister must not panic and throw this plan away just days after it has been implemented, particularly where indications show the plan is working as transmissions are declining and going in the right direction.

“Frankly, a lock down would be a betrayal of our communities and businesses that have sacrificed so much and are working together to control COVID in their areas. For example, it would be monstrously unfair to place Aberdeen, Moray, Highlands and the Borders in a Tier 4 lockdown when the data shows they barely merit level 1 let alone 2.

“Although the extension of the furlough scheme  announced by the UK Government is welcome, it is not a panacea: it will protect jobs to a certain extent, and it can provide a cushion for when areas need stricter measures to control the spread of the virus. However, most businesses which are already depleted of cash reserves from the last lockdown, and additional local lockdowns, we all still face other costs. Many are at the point where it might just be easier to shut and restart at some point in the future, if at all. That will be a disaster for all of us.

“Allowing businesses to trade as normally as possible must be core to the process of managing the virus.”

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