First Minister's timeline for lockdown easing hailed as 'an important step' forward for Fife businesses
Alan Mitchell, chief executive of Fife Chamber of Commerce, has welcomed the timeline for easing lockdown restrctions over the next few weeks by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.
He said Tuesday’s announcement gives ‘hard-pressed’ firms in the Kingdom hope that a return to normality is now within reach and allows them to start planning for their re-opening.
Mr Mitchell said: “This is not a timeline to restriction-free, 100% trading for business but it is an important step on the journey and will be welcomed by Fife’s hard-pressed businesses.
"It will give them and their staff more hope that a return to normality is now within reach and it gives some of them reassurance that financial support will be available to help them reopen successfully and thereafter if it is needed.
“Businesses will plan for reopening diligently and with the ongoing safety of their customers and staff at the forefront of their thoughts, as it has been throughout the pandemic.
"That is why business premises have not been a significant cause of Covid infection or transmission. I know this anecdotally from the many conversations I have with businesses but, more importantly, official statistics demonstrate it clearly.
"The First Minister must give proper weight to this demonstrable safety-first approach by business as she reviews the data over the coming weeks to decide whether to adhere to, accelerate or, crucially, decelerate her timetable.”
He said reaching Level 0 will be ‘fantastic’ but it will still leave restrictions in place with many businesses still finding it hard to trade profitably. He said aviation and tourism will also find it challenging if cross-UK and international travel restrictions are not lifted or at least eased.
Mr Mitchell added: “We are at a crucial juncture. We have a business community that is committed to re-opening and trading safely. We have a vaccination programme that is quickly cutting the number of people at risk of serious harm from Covid. We have an economy that is under pressure rarely seen before and businesses that have been hammered financially for a year.
"Of course, some caution remains necessary, but we cannot afford an overly cautious timetable to return to normal business and social activities or an over-zealous approach to trying to eliminate Covid.
"The First Minister must get the balance right.”