Small business relief mixed with frustration as toughest restrictions avoided

The First Minister has this afternoon outlined a range of changes to local coronavirus restrictions in Scotland. No mainland Scottish local authorities have seen a loosening in restrictions and a number of council areas have moved up a level. However, no Scottish council area has been moved to the toughest level of restrictions.

Andrew McRae, FSB’s Scotland policy chair, said: “Today’s changes see many more Scottish independent businesses face new restrictions. However necessary, this will cause heartache for the operators in the firing line, even with the support that’s on offer from governments in Edinburgh and London.

“However, the decisions made by the First Minister today means that many firms in Scotland are facing fewer restrictions when compared with the hard lockdown earlier this year. While it might not feel like it, that likely means fewer job losses and business failures when faced with the alternative.

“Nonetheless, we know that many smaller operators find the restrictions in place punitive. And that’s why we’d urge the Scottish Government to keep them in place only as long as they need to be.

“A move to the tightest level of restrictions across Scotland’s central belt would have driven a wedge through the high street. So called non-essential independent shops would have been forced to shut their doors while many of their competitors – like the online giants – would have been allowed to keep trading. Ahead of Christmas, we’d urge the First Minister to avoid this scenario.”