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Welcome relief for businesses – but it's not the end of the road

By Scott Maclennan

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David Richardson, regional development manager at FSB.
David Richardson, regional development manager at FSB.

Businesses still have plenty of work to do despite relief that restrictions brought in due to the Omicron variant of Covid-19 will be lifted from Monday.

The Federation of Small Businesses welcomed the First Minister's announcement earlier this week that the country had "turned the corner" on Omicron.

But it warned that confidence is still low and businesses still need support to get back on track.

Key restrictions introduced by the Scottish Government will no longer apply from next week including: limits on attendance at indoor public events; one metre physical distancing between different groups in indoor public places; the requirement for table service in hospitality premises serving alcohol; and the closure of nightclubs.

The government also said it would not extend the Covid passport scheme to hospitality and leisure settings.

David Richardson, the FSB's Highlands and Islands development manager, said: “Highland businesses will be delighted that trading conditions will soon be returning to near normal, that the FSB has been listened to and the threat of vaccine passports has been lifted, and that they can now start planning with more certainty for the year ahead.

“However, this does not mean that all their problems are over and that local economies will quickly bounce back. There’s a lot of work to do to rebuild confidence amongst businesses and consumers.

“In the meantime, many firms hit hard by the Omicron restrictions and facing dire cashflow problems will be wondering what has happened to the promised Scottish Government support. It now looks as though some won’t receive any until well after the restrictions have been lifted, and businesses need reassurance from ministers that it’s coming.

“One final, very important point. We want the Scottish Government to promise that any underspend in the money that it allocated to supporting businesses through the pandemic is used for this purpose – for helping businesses recover, adapt and grow.”

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