Responding to the latest measures to tackle coronavirus in Scotland, outlined by the First Minister today, Russell Borthwick, chief executive of Aberdeen & Grampian Chamber of Commerce, said:

"We must see regular reviews throughout January with the opportunity to reverse these measures more quickly if the data suggests it can be done.

"Although the taxpayer cannot afford it, UK and Scottish Government also need to substantially step-up levels of cash support. The Job Retention Scheme is well and good but does not cover any of the non-payroll costs of companies forced to close or to be open but with few customers. And this needs to be simple, easy to access and without the complicated caveats and thresholds that have accompanied previous grants.

"This period is often the most difficult in terms of trading or cashflow for many businesses and this could be the straw that breaks the back of many that have been clinging on hoping for better things in 2021.

"If the vaccine is the only exit route, we must demand detailed plans and timeline for the vaccination of over 60s and for these to be accelerated as a matter of urgency. Only 367 people in the UK under 60 without pre-existing conditions have succumbed to the virus."

Liz Cameron, chief executive of the Scottish Chambers of Commerce, added: “Today’s news is another blow to the private sector’s recovery from this pandemic. Whilst we fully appreciate the need for the Scottish Government to act in response to the worrying rise in CV19 cases, we cannot ignore the direct impact this will have on business and livelihoods.

“The welcome news today that the Oxford vaccine has started to be rolled out reminds us that there is hope and we must focus all our efforts and resilience towards 2021.

“What is equally vital is that the Scottish Government also puts in place measures which will provide a springboard to private sector recovery when this latest round of restrictions is lifted. Support for businesses which have already been through so much and survived 2020, must be expanded and all cash support paid out urgently.

“I look forward to being involved in the discussions on what more will be done to drive this recovery in the coming weeks.’’

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