Keeping Edinburgh in level three ‘hammer blow to businesses’

Politicians and business leaders have voiced frustrations after the city was not moved to level two of the Covid alert system.

Keeping Edinburgh in level three ‘hammer blow to businesses’ Getty Images

Business leaders and politicians have voiced their frustrations after Edinburgh was not moved down to level two following a review of coronavirus restrictions. 

On Tuesday, the First Minister told parliament that Inverclyde, Falkirk and Angus would move into level two while Dumfries and Galloway and the Scottish Borders were placed in level one. 

It had been hoped that the capital would also move into level two as cases of coronavirus dropped.

However Nicola Sturgeon told MSPs that while consideration had been made for moving Edinburgh to level two, the upcoming festive period had quashed the decision.

The situation will be reassessed next week.

Ian Murray, Labour MP for Edinburgh South, said the decision not to ease restrictions in Edinburgh would be a “hammer blow” for businesses and jobs.

“Edinburgh went into a ‘16 day’ targeted lockdown on October 9. We are now at day 60 with no logical explanation of how and when Edinburgh moves to a lower tier,” he said.

“The announcement that the capital will remain at tier three, despite widely trailing a move to tier two, is a hammer blow for businesses and jobs at the most important time of the year.”

Adam McVey, leader of Edinburgh City Council, said on Twitter that the people of Edinburgh deserve an explanation as to why the city had failed to move tiers.

“I spoke to the Deputy First Minister John Swinney and public health on Sunday and heard nothing to suggest Edinburgh could not now safely move into level two,” he said.

“I’ve asked to meet the Deputy First Minister urgently to ensure the Government give a full explanation to the people of Edinburgh on the reasons behind their decision.”

Meanwhile the Scottish Licensing Trade Association say that while some areas have had restrictions eased, they haven’t “gone far enough to help an industry in crisis”.

SLTA’s managing director Colin Wilkinson said: “Many operators even in levels two and three areas have already been forced to close down their businesses as it is simply unviable to operate with the current restrictions on the sale of alcohol, capacity levels and the operating times that are currently in place. 

“The Scottish Government needed to lessen these to give some kind of hope for the industry as we head into our fourth winter period in January.

“December is a crucially important part of the year for our industry for a number of reasons, but even more so this year as operators struggle to save their businesses. 

“The licensed hospitality sector has borne the brunt of heavily restrictive measures this year and the opportunity to be open and doing what we do best over Christmas and New Year would have perhaps given a much-needed morale boost for both operators and staff – and help businesses claw back some of the huge financial losses they have incurred in 2020.

Dr Liz Cameron, chief executive of the Scottish Chambers of Commerce, added: “We remain concerned about the ongoing crippling impacts being felt by our hospitality and tourism businesses, who have seen their trade completely dry up and with little prospect of that recovering in the near future.

“It is therefore very urgent that adequate and effective financial support is provided for these businesses as well as for those who have fallen through gaps in business support, such as businesses in lower-level areas still open but struggling with suppressed activity and those in the supply chains of key industries who have been unable to access any such support.

“Businesses across all of Scotland need one thing: to be able to open their doors and trade. Not having to start and stop with their hands tied behind their back. We urge everyone to behave responsibly to support businesses, our families and our employees.’’

STV News is now on WhatsApp

Get all the latest news from around the country

Follow STV News
Follow STV News on WhatsApp

Scan the QR code on your mobile device for all the latest news from around the country

WhatsApp channel QR Code