First step on road to full re-opening
More businesses allowed to open but still a long road ahead
Pubs, cafes, restaurants, gyms and shops are amongst the businesses that are now allowed to open following the latest easing of lockdown restrictions. The changes took effect from 26th April, when travel restrictions between different parts of the UK were also removed. Scotland is now in Level 3, with 17th May pencilled in as the date for a move to Level 2, at which point more activities, including business and other events, will be allowed.
Commenting on the easing of restrictions, Alan Mitchell, Chief Executive of Fife Chamber of Commerce, said: “It is great that more businesses can now open and that more will be able to trade in a few weeks. We are delighted for them, but we have to recognise that tough physical distancing regulations remain a big challenge for them and many will find it difficult to trade profitably while they remain in force. A return to offices is not planned until the end of June and even then, only in a limited manner. That has a big impact on businesses that rely on office workers for a lot of their turnover. If the current Scottish Government timetable holds, Scotland will get to Level 0 by the end of June, but that will still leave restrictions in place. Hospitality and event businesses will still have big capacity constraints. Many people will still be required to work from home rather than return to their offices. The resumption of international travel, which supports so many businesses and jobs, is some way away.
“When the First Minister confirmed last week that the changes planned for 26th April would go ahead, it came when the Office of National Statistics said that 120,000 people in Scotland aged between 16 and 64 were unemployed in February, UK unemployment is over 310,000 higher than a year ago and people under the age of 25 represent half the payroll jobs lost since March 2020. These numbers represent the tangible human cost of stopping Covid. The progress of the vaccination programme and its impact on Covid infection and illness rates is plain to see, so there should be no delays to full opening that are not absolutely necessary. The quicker we re-open businesses and kickstart the economy, the shorter the path to job recovery will be. This week is a great start, so let’s kick on from here with vigour.”