THE second wave of the coronavirus engulfing Europe is undoubtedly cause for huge dismay.

In Scotland, not only has it caused more restrictions to be placed on businesses that are already so precarious, the spread of the virus has dampened hopes many families hold for the upcoming festive season to spend time together.

It will also severely impact many businesses who rely on the pre-Christmas period for both footfall and revenue.

Last week the Scottish Government formalised tiers of restrictions to prevent the spread of Covid-19, with most of the country being put at the second-highest level. Further restriction was added by preventing people from travelling in or out of any tier three-designated local authority areas, causing fear that trade in city centres, out-of-town retail facilities, visitor attractions and many tourism and hospitality businesses would be hit with deleterious effect.

The Scottish Government has said the new strategy is key to preventing a nationwide lockdown, but the measures set out in the tiered framework are still blunt and will continue to place a stranglehold on the economy.

It is clear that every business in every area needs to get back to trading as soon as is possible.

It is essential if we want to save the economy of Scotland.

As we work towards this goal, we have urged the Scottish Government to tell us – what will it take to get there?

And how quickly can we get there? What do we need to do to work toward it?

The Scottish Chambers of Commerce has outlined why it is essential that the tiers provide a greater level of detail and transparency, indicating the importance of criteria and trigger points to show how and when areas can move from one stage to another.

The First Minister pledged that the government and their advisors will undertake weekly and, in some cases, daily reviews of the restriction criteria in an effort to keep them both as short lived and as effective as possible.

Of course, we have told ministers that business needs to be at that table when and where these decisions are being made, to help both understand and inform the review process which will affect us all.

We believe that this will help to build business confidence that the measures being placed upon us are necessary and effective, and that they will enable all of us to be working towards the same goals – saving lives and livelihoods.

We need government to take people and business with them when they are deciding when and where to implement restrictions. This includes setting out more detail on where the growth of the virus comes from.

We have the data, through the track and trace programme, as well as the NHS Scotland app, not to mention thousands of restaurants and public service providers, collecting easily assimilated information upon entry.

The question we need to have answered is this: Is it public behaviour that is causing the spread of the virus or is it being spread due to businesses failing to provide safe environments?

If it’s the latter, then clearly it is an area that needs picked up on immediately.

We are clear that businesses are implementing all necessary precautions and following guidance.

Businesses have invested much in making their premises Covid-19 safe and will continue to operate safely, to protect their employees and the general public.

But if it is public behaviour, then it is up to all of us, everyone, to step up to our responsibilities, to keep ourselves and others safe.

Liz Cameron is chief executive of the Scottish Chambers of Commerce