Amongst the extraordinary measures the UK Government has taken during the current crisis to keep the economy afloat, the suspension of wrongful trading provisions of the Insolvency Act 1986 tells us just how severe the blow to normal business is becoming.

These rules are designed to discourage company directors from continuing to trade when they have no realistic chance of avoiding insolvency, so that the company’s creditors are protected.

Usually the directors should be asking whether they have a reasonable prospect of turning a struggling company’s performance around. In the current circumstances that is a question that is almost impossible to answer.

For wholly understandable reasons the scientists cannot put a date on the point when normal business conditions might return.

The most optimistic possibilities appear to stretch from the 12 weeks that our most vulnerable citizens have been asked to self-isolate, to the comments made by Dr Jenny Harries, England’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer, that we could be operating social distancing for six months.

Even then it may take considerable time for demand to re-emerge in markets like international tourism.

My own conversations with the Chamber’s members suggest that there will be very heavy demand for the Job Retention Scheme for which guidelines were published last Friday.

We were arguing for as much flexibility in the scheme as possible, and the guidelines do allow for any company to participate - not just those that are essentially closed for the duration - do allow staff to be trained whilst on furlough and do cover all costs including employer’s National Insurance and pension payments.

The three-week rule also appears to allow some scope to call furloughed workers back should they be needed, for example, to cover for colleagues who become sick - without then forfeiting the scheme’s support. But part-time furloughing is not possible.

We also know both the Small Business Grants and the Business Interruption Loan Scheme are under heavy pressure. There are so many companies that simply don’t have the cash flow reserves to keep going without that support. There is a desperate rush to find cash, knowing that it will be May before payments start flowing under the Job Retention Scheme.

Perhaps the most awkward feedback is coming from companies confused at why there are differences between the system in Scotland and that in the rest of the UK.

Scotland has been notably different in its guidance on the closure of businesses.

The UK Government specifically advised that with some clear exceptions it was not asking businesses to close but was asking for as much home working to be applied as humanly possible.

The Scottish Government advised quite differently that all business premises should be closed unless they were essential to the health and welfare of the country.

The First Minister emphasised businesses should close unless they could be deemed essential or were engaged in the battle against the virus. But no further guidance has emerged on what is to be deemed essential, and the consequence has been a clamour of naming and shaming of hitherto highly reputable businesses that have been scrambling to adapt to the Scottish position - many of which may well be providing important products and services for the country.

In the balance between the public health battle and the maintenance of some semblance of an operational economy, the Scottish Government has chosen a greater emphasis on the former than England.

We must hope that their choice does save a higher number of lives and we must also hope that Scotland does not also have a much longer and harder struggle towards economic recovery.

Stuart Patrick is chief executive of Glasgow Chamber of Commerce