If a year ago, you could have predicted we would be where we are now, you’d likely have been considered as mad as a box of frogs.

When lockdown first took hold, most of us thought it would be over in weeks, perhaps months, if you were a glass half empty kind of person. I remember when I first announced to my staff that there would be a national lockdown, telling them that we would probably be out of the office for a few months. We were fortunate in that our business model was already set up for home working, having introduced flexible working policies over five years ago.

A year later it still seems incredible what we have put up with, what we have lost and how we have somehow adapted.

Recently the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon indicated we can now begin returning to, if not entirely normal, then at least some semblance of normal life. As with any decision made in managing the spread of Covid-19, you cannot please all the people all the time. Most people understand that the course of the virus has been far from straight forward.

However, the overriding sense among businesses is that the Scottish Government approach to the pandemic has often been an over-cautious one. Nor has it adequately weighted damages to the economy and the increasing damage it is now having on other health issues caused by pandemic restrictions. The huge mental and emotional strain is building up a mental health crisis for our NHS alongside the horrific health crisis many have endured.

We speak to businesses across Scotland almost every day and they have highlighted some of the significant difficulties with the timetable for easing coronavirus restrictions. There was a great deal of relief among hotel and restaurant owners on when they can open, albeit there was still plenty of confused head scratching. For example, where is the evidence that a two-hour limit in a restaurant prevents the spread of infection? And, as hotels are allowed to open in April and events are allowed to take place in May, will the restriction on travel between local authorities be lifted as well?

As the successful rollout of the vaccination programmes continues and we expand testing, these tools should enable us to manage acceptable risk. The key to reducing the anguish and pain will be down to our individual and group behaviours. If not, we can very quickly find ourselves in reverse gear as demonstrated by other countries.

There remains much uncertainty for so many businesses that are essential to the fabric of our society, such as aviation, as well as those businesses and jobs which are reliant on international travel. Much has been discussed relating to tourism travel, but equally important, is business travel. Scotland’s airports have been global leaders in the development and implementation of rigorous testing before, during and after travel. We have the expertise of our health clinicians and airport operators for whom safety is a constant in their business. I remain confident they have the solutions – let’s put them into practice. We now need plans which will safely enable aviation, exporters, importers, tourists, and others to move forward. Airlines can position their planes anywhere in the world – and if the Scottish Government do not take this seriously, there could be thousands of jobs lost.

We have all shown remarkable resilience in reaching this point. We now need the publication of what measured, evidenced criteria will be used by the Scottish Government to enable us to move down levels. We are looking forward with renewed hope and confidence, but only if we continue to follow all safety guidance, looking after ourselves and others.

Liz Cameron is chief executive of Scottish Chambers of Commerce