Nicola Sturgeon is to reveal if further coronavirus restrictions – including an extension of Scotland’s vaccine passport scheme – are to be brought in to help combat rising numbers of infections.
Business leaders, however, have claimed almost two-thirds of firms are opposed to the measures being considered, fearing they could “place thousands of firms and jobs at risk”.
A total of 65% of companies surveyed for Scottish Chambers of Commerce (SCC) were against vaccine passports being used more in the hospitality and leisure sectors, together with increased home working and greater use of face coverings.
The poll, which almost 700 firms took part in, also found that a quarter (24%) of businesses face “severe financial consequences” if vaccine passports and home-working measures are widened.
The First Minister and her cabinet will consider if such further restrictions are necessary when they meet on Tuesday, with Sturgeon to update Holyrood on their decisions in the afternoon.
Speaking ahead of that, SCC chief executive Liz Cameron warned: “Any reintroduction of restrictions will act as a painful economic deterrent for businesses across Scotland.
“We urge ministers not to take a massive step backwards in our economic recovery from the pandemic which would place thousands of firms and jobs at risk.”
Cameron insisted: “It is critical that our economic recovery does not lag behind that of competitors across the globe.
“Going backwards at this stage will put our recovery at risk, create further uncertainty and undermine consumer confidence.”
She added: “If restrictions are to be reintroduced under legislation, then companies will of course be forced to accept them, but ministers must urgently outline the evidence for these decisions, detail what financial support the Scottish Government will make available to affected sectors and provide an end point to burdensome restrictions.”
Her comments come after Scotland’s chief medical officer Dr Gregor Smith warned recently that the country was “now in a period of growth of Covid-19 cases again”.
Deputy first minister John Swinney revealed last week that Scottish Government is considering extending the vaccine certification scheme – already in place in nightclubs and at other large events – to more parts of the hospitality and leisure sector.
Swinney stressed a decision has not yet been made but said Covid-19 was at a “concerningly high level” and Scotland is in a “precarious and unpredictable” position.
He added that ministers were also considering steps to increase home working and “whether changes are needed to extend use of face coverings”.
A Scottish Government spokesman said no decision had yet been taken about any forthcoming changes.
“Since the start of the pandemic, the Scottish Government has provided more than £4.4bn to help businesses cope with the impact of Covid-19,” the spokesman said.
“We continue to support retailers and other businesses as we rebuild the economy following the pandemic, including through the work of the retail strategy, the Town Centre Review and City Centre Recovery Taskforce, as well as the Scotland Loves Local (SLL) £10m multi-year support programme.
“This includes a fund, a SLL marketing campaign and a SLL gift card which supports local online businesses and aims to help increase footfall and activity while revitalising local places and town centres by encouraging communities to think, choose and love local.”