Douglas Ross has pressed Nicola Sturgeon over why hospitality businesses in Scotland are still being “held back” by her government.
The Scottish Conservative leader raised the issue of business support at First Minister’s Questions on Thursday.
And he asked why it will soon be possible for tens of thousands of spectators to attend sports events, but it will not be possible to order a drink at the bar in a pub.
It comes after the First Minister earlier this week announced an easing of restrictions which will see fans able to return to stadiums once again from January 17.
Speaking at the Scottish Parliament, Ross told MSPs: “This week here in Scotland, businesses were dealt another blow.
“Restrictions on them were extended by a further week without any clear evidence.
“The Omicron data is now far more positive. The First Minister herself has accepted that the Government’s projections in December were wrong.
“So why are hospitality businesses still being held back by her government?
“And can the First Minister explain to people across Scotland why on one hand, it’s safe for tens of thousands of people to now go to stadiums, but it’s not safe to walk from your seat to the bar in the local pub?”
Sturgeon pointed to the action taken by the Scottish Government in setting out funding for hospitality businesses hit by festive cancellations to access.
She said: “Dearie me. I mean, first of all, I mean I can’t believe… Douglas Ross must be the only person in the entire country in the run-up to Christmas didn’t hear the howls from hospitality businesses south of the border about the collapse in footfall and the loss loss of revenue and the dire straits they were in.
“He’s standing here trying to suggest that businesses in every part of the UK haven’t suffered these Covid impacts, but the difference in Scotland of course is that the Scottish Government has responded in a way much greater than the Government has south of the border.”
The First Minister also argued that the country would be in a ‘seriously difficult position’ had Douglas Ross been in charge.
She said: “The projections before Christmas were not wrong. What happened is that we didn’t just fold our arms and accept those projections as inevitable, we took proportionate, sensible, balanced action.
“The public responded, as they have done throughout this pandemic, magnificently, and we were able to change the course of those projections.
“If Douglas Ross had been standing here, something that I know is hard to contemplate for people in Scotland, and even harder for some people in his own party it seems, but if Douglas Ross had been standing here, is he really saying that he would have not responded to those projections in December, because if that had been the case, we would be in a seriously, seriously, difficult position right now.
“Because we took sensible action, we are now lifting those restrictions, but we are doing so in a phased and responsible way.”
Sturgeon added: “Had I followed the advice of Douglas Ross over these past months, we wouldn’t have face coverings still being used in Scotland, we wouldn’t have some of the mitigations we have in schools, we would not have taken many of the sensible actions we’ve taken and we’d be in a much worse position than we are in right now.”
Ross accused the First Minister of treating Scottish jobs and businesses as an “afterthought”.
He said: “The First Minister tells us to live with Covid, but then she won’t trust the public. She imposes restrictions but doesn’t deliver compensation
“She says the data on Omicron and Covid is more promising, and then she threatens businesses with a wider vaccine passport scheme.
“She demands more money from the UK Government and then doesn’t give it to the businesses here in Scotland.
“When our economic recovery is so fragile, it simply isn’t good enough. First Minister, why are Scottish jobs and Scottish businesses always an afterthought for you and your government?”