A Scottish business leader has said restrictions "now look to be in place indefinitely" as the Scottish Government extended closures and curfews in the hospitality industry.

Sector representatives described the move, that came amid heightening concern over increases coronavirus cases, as "cataclysmic" for the licensed trade.

Liz Cameron, chief Executive of the Scottish Chambers of Commerce, said: “Businesses in the hospitality sector and across the supply chain will be absolutely devastated that restrictions now look to be in place indefinitely.

"We were advised that temporary restrictions would help to reduce spread of the virus. But now the temporary restrictions have been extended which make it impossible for businesses to rebuild and protect jobs."

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She continued: “This short term, reactive approach is no longer enough. Where is the plan that we can all get alongside to help Scottish Government to both manage the virus and ensure the economy can also return to health?"

Ms Cameron said: “A new, tiered system of restrictions is set to be introduced this week.

"However, along with this there must be a clear way out of higher tiered restriction levels, backed by data and in consultation with businesses. We need to be in those discussions now. The extension of the funding package will be essential and should be tied to every stage as a matter of course rather than a lagging afterthought."

It came as Nicola Sturgeon said pubs and restaurants in central Scotland will remain closed for a further week.

The First Minister said the current hospitality restrictions will be extended until November 2 ahead of the introduction a new five-tier lockdown system in Scotland.

She said: "I know all of this is really unwelcome, and I know that these restrictions are harsh. 

"They're harsh financially for many individuals and businesses and they are harsh emotionally for all of us."

Stephen Montgomery, spokesman for the Scottish Hospitality Group, said: "Recent restrictions were framed as a ‘temporary’ short, sharp shock, but the extension is an indication that we can only expect a continued government stranglehold on hospitality that will have devasting consequences.

“We knew that next week would be pivotal for many businesses as furlough comes to an end. With current restrictions remaining in place until November 2, and no indication of what the new tier system will entail, the financial support package must be increased or countless venues will be forced to close for good, and tens of thousands of people will lose their jobs."

Paul Waterson, spokesman for the SLTA, said "there has been no consultation with the industry and as we said earlier this month, we believe these measures to be cataclysmic for hospitality operators".

“Hundreds of businesses are facing permanent closure and with that thousands of jobs will be lost – the damage could be irreparable.”

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