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Nicola Sturgeon has warned tougher coronavirus restrictions may need to be introduced in Scotland in a bid to stem the “rising tide” of cases with almost 700 infections reported in the last 24 hours. Despite having brought in a national ban on Scots going into other people’s homes some two weeks ago, the First Minister said it was possible more measures may be required in the “near future”.
The SNP leader suggested travel restrictions were being considered and hinted about a full hospitality industry closure saying the 10pm curfew for bars and restaurants “is one of the areas where, to be frank, we may have to go further for a period”.
Express.co.uk also understands that a mandatory domestic quarantine on visitors from certain parts of the UK was being “considered” by officials where cases are high as well as a two-week “circuit breaker” lockdown.
Serious concerns were raised during the Scottish Chambers of Commerce’s Business Advisory Group, where Scotland’s top business experts reviewed the State of the Scottish Economy.
Tim Allan, President of the Scottish Chambers of Commerce, said: “Talk of a further blanket lockdown is unacceptable to Scottish businesses.
“It would damage consumer and business confidence which have already taken an unprecedented economic hit throughout this crisis.
“Returning to national lockdown measures will take our economy back to square one – we simply cannot continue to keep switching the lights of the economy on and off.
“It risks not just jobs but the wellbeing of entire communities.”
Mr Allan suggested the SNP led administration at Holyrood should focus on using the evidence we have to “target problem areas”.
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He added: “The data the Scottish Government now has is sophisticated and detailed and will show which environments and geographical areas the virus is spreading.
“In the vast majority of cases, the recent growth and spread of the virus is not coming from business-managed environments.
“Companies across Scotland have invested heavily to protect its customers and employees – we are playing an outsized role in the fight against the spread of the virus.”
Restaurateur Carina Contini, who runs two award-winning restaurants in Edinburgh, added: “We’ve had a three-month lockdown, was supposed to be our medicine to get the virus under control, to restrict possible further loss of life.
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“We are providing a safe dining environment for customers to come into and socialise.
“Is this absolutely the only alternative?”
She stressed the laws forcing the closure of hospitality venues once again would have “devastating consequences for many many businesses – and for our community”.
Stephen Leckie, Chair of the Scottish Tourism Alliance, said reports of a two-week lockdown was “harrowing”.
He stressed plans for “any form of travel restriction” would in effect “be a lockdown for those in this industry.”
Concluding, he said: “Surely there must be other levers we can pull in order to restrict the spread of this virus.”
697 people have tested positive for coronavirus in the past 24 hours, bringing the total number of cases in Scotland since the start of the pandemic to 32,906.
Nicola Sturgeon’s cabinet is meeting this morning to discuss the situation with any final decisions due to be announced this afternoon.
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