Following confirmation of the areas and tier levels as set out in the Scottish Government’s strategic framework for managing the coronavirus crisis, Russell Borthwick, chief executive of Aberdeen & Grampian Chamber of Commerce, said:

“Today’s announcement was heavily trailed but doesn’t lessen the disappointment that our region has been placed in tier 2 - effectively the same level of restrictions as currently - despite a series of low health related indicators.

“All of the language in the documents is around how and why to move places up tiers but not down. They talk only about ‘reducing transmission of’, not ‘learning to live’ with the virus. The five indicators for allocating restriction levels still relate exclusively to testing, transmission and future acute care needs with no clarity given on how these are weighted leaving us with the sense of decisions still being subjective.

“This is in fact a blueprint to go backwards taking us into a winter of discontent. Other than passive mention of ‘adequately mitigating wider harms’, we see next to no acknowledgement of the fact that many businesses, livelihoods and our wider economy are in need of intensive care.

“Where are job losses, company failures and the rise in other physical and mental health conditions in the calculations? We need better balance now between the public and economic health impacts of this.

“Unemployment in the city and the number of people receiving universal credit has more than doubled since March. At the same time, we have seen a significant decrease in job vacancies in the city, and, looking at potential redundancies, Aberdeen accounts for 35% of all Scottish notifications, some 6,400 jobs.

“Aberdeen initially emerged strongly from the controversial three week full local lockdown in August with lessons learned and praise given by government and health agencies for measures taken putting us at the leading edge of best practice. So, our economy must be trusted and enabled to safely re-open before these figures get worse. Government must stop treating business as the problem and start working with it as part of the solution.”

The Chamber, together with a number of other stakeholders, has co-signed an open statement to government about the framework, its application and what this region expects and needs now.

This includes:

  • The Aberdeen region being moved to Level 1 at the earliest possible review point. And that Scottish Government should set out an indicative timeline and date for when it expects us to be able to move to Level 0.
  • Greater clarity being required around the relationship between weekly reviews and the cycle on which changes will be made and notified to those affected. Business needs time to plan. To order supplies. To arrange staff rotas. To switch back on (or off) the heating.
  • And government seriously engaging with the local Business Resilience Group to create a pathway to sustainably reopening all sectors of the economy in the weeks ahead, allowing us to build towards recovery. In particular this should address the safe re-opening of offices, put forward practical solutions and timescales to allow leisure and corporate travel to resume, and set out steps to work with the hospitality sector to ease the draconian restrictions which are putting businesses and jobs at severe risk.

The open statement can be read in full here.

More like this…

View all