PERHAPS it was always obvious that coming out of lockdown was going to be messier than going in.

Lockdown involves an unequivocal message deliberately stopping most ordinary daily activities. Opening up involves more risk, more nuance and therefore some very tricky judgments.

No politician is going to get these judgments consistently correct and we should be mature enough in our debate to recognize that.

If the science is telling us the virus will be with us for many months or perhaps years we are going to have to do some new learning about how we manage workplace risk beyond lockdown, for it is also obvious that we can’t keep our economy in cold storage for the duration.

The Bank of England made it starkly clear damage already done to output is as severe as anything we have seen in nearly 300 years and no government can afford to maintain the existing financial support to companies indefinitely.

But nor do we wish to see in Scotland or the rest of the UK the levels of unemployment being recorded in countries like the United States. So with lockdown broadly continuing in Scotland until at least May 28 we must use this time to design the process for opening up the economy on the assumption that we will be living and working with Covid-19 always in the background.

We need government, business and trade unions to collaborate constructively on the operational guidance knowing there can be no absolute guarantee of safety. That is not a familiar culture.

Last week we carried out our first local survey of Glasgow Chamber of Commerce membership since the crisis began. There were some pretty clear messages.

Firstly, as long as government instructs companies to remain closed there should be assistance in place to help those companies reach the point at which they are permitted to reopen.

By far the most effective measure has been the Job Retention Scheme. Our survey of over 200 Glasgow businesses showed that 64% were furloughing staff - slightly below UK levels - with 57% supporting an extension to the scheme beyond June for as long as social distancing continues. As I write we are expecting the Chancellor to extend JRS, aiming to avoid a ‘cliff edge’ ending and improve the scheme’s flexibility.

For the smallest companies however another round of the Small Business Grant scheme may be needed with 55% of firms of less than 10 employees looking for additional funding. The Scottish Government last week added an extra £45m to its Pivotal Enterprise Resilience Fund responding to the enormous scale of demand but that may not on its own find its way to the smallest companies.

With the Treasury expressing concern at how much longer it can keep the financial support flowing the second message becomes ever more important.

Some 56% of Glasgow businesses are asking for clear policy guidance on operating with social distancing. Amongst the most exposed businesses in tourism, hospitality and retail, just over half believe they could comply with social distancing rules. Guidance has now been published in England and Scotland will need to follow soon.

The more inevitable it becomes that we will be running our economy alongside the virus the more governments will need to work with businesses to help them operate safely. For smaller businesses that may mean government agencies actively helping them to interpret and implement the guidance.

It may also mean an appreciation that just as politicians will get it wrong occasionally then so too will businesses. Both will be learning how to reassess the daily risk of simply earning a living.

Stuart Patrick is chief executive of Glasgow Chamber of Commerce