Covid in Scotland: ‘Lost summer season’ warning as lockdown easing paused

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The hospitality business is warning of the potential of “another lost summer” as Scottish ministers put together to delay easing coronavirus restrictions.

Nicola Sturgeon mentioned on Tuesday that transferring Scotland to stage zero was more likely to be pushed again three weeks.

It means restrictions on bars, cafes, eating places and accommodations may very well be in place till the center of July.

The first minister informed MSPs the delay would guarantee extra individuals may very well be vaccinated.

Covid instances are persevering with to rise in Scotland, the place the an infection price is 5 instances greater than it was in early May.

The Scottish Licensed Trade Association mentioned the business was now at “breaking point” they usually referred to as for extra monetary help for companies.

Its managing director, Colin Wilkinson, mentioned: “There needs to be an extension to the current support schemes available such as furlough, VAT reduction, deferral of loan repayments and so on.

“Our pubs and bars have already invested tens of millions to supply a protected surroundings as all of us study to dwell with this virus and we want to have the ability to open with out restrictions as quickly as we are able to.”

Mr Wilkinson said most hospitality businesses were continuing to operate at loss and racking up further debt.

They have increased staff costs as they have to provide table service, but fewer tables – and customers – because of social distancing rules.

‘Never-ending hell’

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But the situation is even worse for nightclubs, which would not even be allowed to open under level zero rules.

“This is a endless hell for hospitality employees and the companies that make use of them, particularly these in the music and night-time sectors,” said Stephen Montgomery, of the Scottish Hospitality Group.

He asked the Scottish government to “tweak the tiers” so businesses could operate safely but viably.

“The authorities has proven that it may be versatile and understanding when it needs to, as we have seen with the Euros and the fan zone,” he added.

“All we’re asking is for hospitality to be proven the identical consideration.”

He referred to as on ministers to “get out from behind their desks” to understand how their policy decisions affect businesses, and to provide “correct monetary assist”.

It was echoed by the Federation of Small Businesses in Scotland, which said state support should be “proportionate to the size of the restrictions”.

Furlough ends in September

Ahead of that, Finance Secretary Kate Forbes and her counterparts in Wales and Northern Ireland have written to the Chancellor of the Exchequer asking for an urgent meeting.

They want to discuss the financial recovery from the pandemic, including the furlough scheme.

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image captionThousands of supporters have been allowed to gather in a Fan Zone in Glasgow to watch Euro 2020 matches

A formal decision on what level each area of Scotland will be in will not take place until next week, but Ms Sturgeon said on Tuesday it was “affordable to point now that I believe it unlikely that any a part of the nation will transfer down a stage” as planned.

It means the country’s mainland council areas will remain in either level one or level two, although many island communities including Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles are already in level zero.

Ms Sturgeon said that “we have to purchase adequate time for vaccination to get forward and keep forward of the virus, and that’s for warning at this juncture”.

She also said that a review of physical distancing rules would be published next week, along with a report on what life could look like once Scotland moves beyond level zero.

‘We’ve been here before’

Trade minister Ivan McKee said the Scottish government was trying to make the situation as “painless as potential in this very tough time for companies”.

He informed the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland programme: “We’ll watch the info intently and, based mostly on the route the virus takes, then we’re capable of confirm what measures may very well be taken.

“There’s no point in loosening up too early and then we see a further spike in cases and hospitalisations. We’ve been here before [and] we don’t want to see a third wave of that magnitude.”

The Scottish Chambers of Commerce’s chief govt Liz Cameron mentioned the newest developments can be “frustrating and painful” for a lot of Scottish companies.

She added: “Any delay must be used to expand the vaccine rollout and deliver the crucial second doses that will move us out of lockdown restrictions faster.”

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