Nicola Sturgeon: How businesses have reacted ahead of First Minister’s coronavirus announcement

Businesses across Scotland are preparing for bad news from Nicola Sturgeon this afternoon, when the First Minister is set to announce fresh measures to help suppress the spread of Covid-19 in Scotland.

Ms Sturgeon will address MSPs in Holyrood at 2:50pm today, after holding a meeting of the Scottish Cabinet.

Why is Nicola Sturgeon announcing new restrictions?

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The First Minister said yesterday that she was receiving "very strong" public health advice that new measures were needed in response to rising Covid-19 cases.

Cases of coronavirus in Scotland have been rising steadily over the past month, with the Scottish Government yesterday confirming 800 newly-identified infections.

Hospitalisations from the virus have also surged, with an additional 44 people being admitted with the virus - bringing the total to 262.

In her daily briefing yesterday, Ms Sturgeon insisted that the situation “is not out of control, but it is a cause of increasing concern,” as she revealed that cases among elderly and vulnerable groups are also on the rise.

Professor Jason Leitch said fresh measures introduced now could help prevent harsher restrictions being required in the future.

The First Minister said yesterday that she was receiving "very strong" public health advice that new measures were needed in response to rising Covid-19 cases. (Photo by Andy Buchanan / AFP) (Photo by ANDY BUCHANAN/AFP via Getty Images)

What measures will be introduced?

Nicola Sturgeon has said school closures and travel restrictions are not part of the package of measures she is considering, but did not rule out shutting hospitality venues, gyms, and universities.

How have businesses reacted to the news?

Amid rising speculation of further restrictions on the hospitality sector, a leading trade body voiced deep concern on Tuesday evening.

Emma McClarkin, of the Scottish Beer & Pub Association, said: "If the Scottish Government is to implement further harsh restrictive measures to our sector, it must include a dedicated package of support alongside it.

"Without it, the Scottish Government will leave our pubs and thousands of jobs doomed to failure."

Michelle Chambers-Cran, Regional Manager of David Lloyd Leisure said: “It is vitally important to the wellbeing of the Scottish people that gyms and health clubs are regarded as an essential facility and allowed to remain open.

“As we approach winter, overall well being is more important than ever, and physical fitness is proven to be vital in strengthening the immune system, protecting people from Covid-19 and illnesses generally.

“Since our eight clubs reopened on 31st August, we have had over 251,000 member visits with just four reported cases and no known cases of transmission within our clubs.

“These figures demonstrate that all of the measures that we have put in place to reduce the risk of transmission are working.”

Stephen Leckie, Chair of the Scottish Tourism Alliance and owner of the Crieff Hydro Hotel, told GMS that October was “the industry’s last chance this year” to make “any sort of money before the year end.”

He warned that “any form of travel restriction” included in a so-called “circuit breaker” would in effect “be a lockdown for those in this industry.”

If businesses are locked down through October, Mr Leckie said, many would not reopen as the industry faces months of operational losses through the winter.

He added that talk of a circuit breaker lockdown made for “extremely harrowing reading” for those involved in Scotland’s hospitality industry.

“Surely there must be other levers we can pull in order to restrict the spread of this virus,” he added.

Ms Sturgeon vowed to support affected businesses, but said the Scottish Government had limited spending powers.

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