In response to the latest CV19 update from Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Russell Borthwick, chief executive of Aberdeen & Grampian Chamber of Commerce, said:

"What we heard today from the Prime Minister will be welcomed by businesses across the land. This was only a ‘setting out’ of the position but if the detail is confirmed on July 12, it is the most significant step yet in reopening UK plc and returning the lives of its citizens towards normality.

"But for firms across Scotland this will count for nothing if Scottish Government does not follow suit.

"On June 22 it was announced that “all major remaining restrictions here will be lifted on August 9". No restrictions should mean exactly that. This is already a step further down the line than the complete misnomer that is ‘level zero’.

"Any attempt to deviate from the position outlined today by Boris Johnson will be unacceptable and see Scottish businesses and citizens put at a further competitive disadvantage compared with peers south of the border. We’ve said it before, to no avail but there must be a four nations approach to this.

"If, after August 9, people want to wear face coverings or avoid crowded places this is entirely a matter of personal choice. It should be neither mandated nor even advised by government. We all individually manage risk every day in every aspect of our lives and should be trusted to exercise our own judgement and do so again now.

"The implementation of emergency measures was justified by the need to save lives and protect the NHS. The success of the vaccine programme means that neither of these things appear now to be a significant risk.

"The maintenance of any restrictions will be a further hammer blow to already fragile consumer confidence and will have a direct impact on our already under-pressure businesses as people defer plans and spend. Wearing masks and distancing are highly anti-social measures that will influence people’s decisions to travel (including potential visitors to Scotland), make hospitality and live events experiences less appealing and limit the plans of companies to welcome staff back to offices.

"With support schemes tapering off, anything that makes it more difficult to quickly restore the economy to pre-pandemic levels will inevitably lead to closures and job losses. It is the responsibility of government to ensure this doesn’t happen."

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