IF a major Scottish employer with 30,000 staff announced its intention to cut half those jobs a Cabinet Secretary would be on the phone within minutes and the national agencies would be mobilised into an emergency task force that very day. Every sinew would be stretched to prevent those jobs being lost.

Yet that is the scale of the economic disaster that could unfold in Glasgow city centre over the next few months. No such single announcement will be made, rather it will be a steady stream of small redundancies with little attendant government fuss.

In 2016 Glasgow Chamber of Commerce commissioned the Moffat Centre at Glasgow Caledonian University to assess the economic value of the city centre’s retail and night-time economies. Capturing the output of the shops, bars, restaurants, cinemas, theatres, nightclubs and music venues - the very essence of a large successful city lifestyle - found some 33,000 jobs generating over £5 billion.

Those jobs are in serious jeopardy. I spent the morning last week witnessing the reopening of non-essential shops as one of the first steps in releasing our economy. Media coverage focused on queues outside Primark in Argyle and Sauchiehall Street and whilst there certainly were some modest lines of shoppers keen to get a first taste of high street spending the footfall was sparse to say the least.

Several factors combine to threaten shops and hospitality businesses in the city centre, Scotland’s largest concentration of economic activity and one the UK’s main hubs for financial and business services.

We know the reopening of offices is not due until phase 4 of the Scottish Government’s plan but even with permission to recommence, most large employers are not going to be bringing staff back in any numbers this side of Christmas.

A combination of the two-metre rule, concerns about the safety of public transport and the relative effectiveness of home working could keep the daytime footfall dramatically down on normal levels.

Usually hundreds of thousands travel to work into the city every weekday, and that simply won’t be happening for some time. Blended learning models for university and college education may further deter the tens of thousands of staff and students who also bring life to the centre.

Nor is there a decent-sized residential population to provide an alternative source of demand. We know around 20,000 people live in or close by central districts - half the number you would expect compared to similar UK cities.

Just before the crisis struck, the city council set out positive and welcome plans for doubling the centre’s population, but there has been no time to implement those plans. So city centre businesses just don’t have the luxury of dense local neighbourhoods to draw upon.

No doubt some businesses will have found clever alternative strategies for reaching their markets but for most these won’t add up to enough.

The city council has been rightly focused on making the centre safe though its Spaces for People project, widening room available for pedestrians and cyclists, and proposals to use the SEC and the Emirates arena for Park and Stride facilities for car drivers are also helpful.

Allowing hospitality businesses to have temporary use of pavements to expand their seating is another good step. But if the consumers simply don’t turn up then, as soon as the job retention scheme runs down, the businesses large and small, independent and national will have no choice but to let thousands of jobs go.

The Chancellor’s moves on their own are unlikely to be enough. Might we have a governmental task force to help avoid that disaster?

Stuart Patrick is chief executive of Glasgow Chamber of Commerce