Reacting to the Scottish Government’s announcement of further restrictions today, Russell Borthwick, chief executive of Aberdeen and Grampian Chamber of Commerce said:

"These so-called circuit breaker measures are in fact business, job and confidence breakers.

"What we heard this afternoon demonstrates a lack of clarity, inconsistency, utter confusion and leaves the businesses and people of Scotland scratching their heads.

"It seems that alcohol is at the root of all evil when it comes to controlling COVID and our pubs and restaurants are again bearing the brunt of government policy. Yet off sales remain permitted, encouraging consumption indoors in unregulated environments rather than COVID secure hospitality premises.

"Those premises in Aberdeen that were totally closed for 3 weeks in August are allowed to remain open this time, kind of. But, from discussions with our members, there’s a real fear that customers will choose not to go given the level of restrictions in place.

"For hotels in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire, the October school holidays offered the last chance of the year to attract leisure visitors looking for a staycation. But many of their markets are now cut off due to ‘essential only’ travel guidance for much of Scotland.

"Currently infection rates in Grampian are more than six times lower than in other parts of the country, so where are the targeted measures now?

"These announcements will sound the death knell for businesses across the hospitality sector in this region and not just pubs, cafes and restaurants but the thousands of small businesses that supply them.

"And we have yet to fully understand the knock-on effect that will be felt in the retail sector from the potential decline in footfall, something which was illustrated starkly by the previous Aberdeen local lockdown.

"The £40m support package mentioned offers a glimmer of hope but we have yet to understand how this will be distributed. We know from the restrictions brought in previously in Aberdeen that putting significant limits on one sector impacts many more businesses than just those directly affected, the support package needs to reflect this.

"Not another lockdown, we were told but this feels exactly that.

"What exactly is the plan? Buying 28 days? Until what? For what purpose? So we can repeat the pattern again and again ‘while we're waiting on other things to happen’?

"The voice of business and the economy is missing from the debate, we need a better balance and our governments to see business as part of the solution, not the problem.

"In the vast majority of cases, the recent growth and spread of the virus is not coming from business-managed environments. In most instances, employers are playing an effective and engaged role in the fight against the spread of the virus.

"We simply cannot continue to keep switching the lights of the economy on and off without causing serious long-term damage to communities, businesses and livelihoods."

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