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Highland plea for business support as lockdown restrictions are tightened

By Alan Hendry

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First Minister Nicola Sturgeon at a daily briefing earlier this week.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon at a daily briefing earlier this week.

North business leader David Richardson has underlined the need for financial support to help avert "mass business closures" arising from the tightening of Scotland's lockdown.

He was speaking today after First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced new restrictions as Scotland recorded its highest weekly death rate from Covid-19 since May.

The new measures target non-essential click-and-collect services and include preventing customers from going inside to collect takeaway food or coffee.

Mr Richardson, the Highlands and Islands development manager for the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), said: “Judging from the many enquiries that I have received from Highland FSB members over the past fortnight, the attention of those businesses that must now cease trading or further restrict trading activities as a result of today’s announcement will quickly turn to where and when they can get the financial help and support from government that they will need to survive.

“Many will undoubtedly find that their businesses are ineligible, or that funds that could help them survive are yet to be launched, and they will also find that they have joined a long queue of businesses already in this position.

"If we want to avoid the possibility of mass business closures across Scotland, all possible stops must be pulled out to get more money out of the door and into struggling firms’ hands now, before it’s too late.”

The latest measures to help stop the spread of coronavirus and limit non-essential contact will be introduced this weekend.

Nobody who lives in a level four area – covering all of mainland Scotland – should leave or remain outside their home except for essential purposes.

Working from home should now be the default position for all businesses and services, Ms Sturgeon said, and only those who cannot do their job from home should be asked to go to the workplace.

From Saturday, non-essential click-and-collect retail services will be prohibited in level four areas and further changes will be put in place to how services open for essential purposes operate.

Time slots will be required for collection and people should not enter a store to collect an item. Businesses providing takeaway food will also operate on a non-entry basis only, meaning customers cannot enter the premises when placing or collecting orders.

Restrictions banning the consumption of alcohol in public places will also be introduced.

“The situation we face in relation to the virus remains extremely serious," Ms Sturgeon said in a statement to parliament.

“We must continue to do everything possible to reduce case numbers – this is essential to relieve the pressure on our NHS and to save lives.

“Both individually and collectively, these additional measures – in further reducing the interactions that allow the virus to spread – will help our essential efforts to suppress it.

“At this critical and dangerous moment, please stay home, protect the NHS and save lives.”

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