BUSINESS leaders have reacted with dismay to the return of strict lockdown measures in Aberdeen after more than 50 coronavirus cases were linked to a city centre bar.

All pubs, bars and restaurants within the Aberdeen City Council area must close from 5pm today, and residents should not to travel more than five miles for leisure purposes or go into each others' houses.

People have also been advised not to travel into Aberdeen as part of Scotland’s first localised lockdown.

READ MORE: Local lockdown: Covid-19 restrictions being reintroduced in Aberdeen

Andrew McRae, of the Federation of Small Businesses in Scotland, said the restrictions, though necessary, would be a “hammer blow” to firms in the city and the North East.

He said: “While hospitality businesses will be devastated to close their doors, today’s changes will have a knock-on impact on the entire local economy.

“We’ll need to see government at all levels step up to help smaller businesses and the self-employed affected by this lockdown, including financial support if it becomes necessary. “We also want to see crystal clear communications from policymakers to firms in the city.”

Dr Liz Cameron, Chief Executive of the Scottish Chambers of Commerce, said it was “very disappointing” for firms who had just reopened and were edging back to normality.

She said: “However, businesses will accept that it is imperative that local restrictions must come into force if we are to prevent any wider spread of cases from Aberdeen to other parts of Scotland. The health of our communities must come first.

“As outlined by the First Minister, we would highlight that businesses will be able to refurlough their staff should they need to limit the risk to jobs and livelihoods.

READ MORE: Aberdeen lockdown: Holyrood parties welcome move but demand more answers

“Further targeted government support will be required for all businesses affected, specifically those in indoor and outdoor hospitality who have been ordered to close tonight in Aberdeen.

“It is also vital that there is as clear communications and guidance from the government and local authority as possible. 

“Collaboration and cooperation between business, government and agencies will be critical to provide clarity and provide support to help businesses mitigate further disruption."