NICOLA Sturgeon has admitted that key decisions taken on the virus crisis will be “doing somebody harm” as pubs and restaurants are set to be handed further misery.

The First Minister ruled out sending Scotland back into the draconian lockdown endured earlier this year, “even on a temporary basis” – insisting that schools will not be shut, people will not be told to “stay at home” and there will be no countrywide travel ban.

But Ms Sturgeon suggested that her announcement on Wednesday afternoon could lead to pubs and restaurants facing further restrictions in an attempt to halt people gathering together and spreading the deadly virus.

Although a “circuit-breaker lockdown” was essentially ruled out, Ms Sturgeon suggested that “additional targeted steps” are now required.

Hospitality settings such as pubs, restaurants and cafes are expected to take the brunt of any further restrictions announced on Wednesday, amid speculation over the 10pm curfew being extended or tighter measures to stop people mixing.

READ MORE: Coronavirus Scotland: Tough decisions taken to 'minimise harm'

Scotland’s pub trade has warned that thousands of jobs will be on the line if restrictions are tightened at short notice, without input from the industry and further economic help being provided.

Finance Secretary Kate Forbes warned MSPs that the Scottish Government faces a “budget of unprecedented uncertainty” that amounts to “billions of pounds”, impacting the ability to combat the economic turmoil caused by the virus.

She added: “The delay of the UK Budget means the Scottish Budget for next year will be based on provisional and partial figures, and therefore subject to unnecessary uncertainty and risk, at a time where uncertainty and risk are not in short supply.

“We will not know what parameters we have to work with on crucial issues such as health funding or businesses support.

“The degree of uncertainty runs to the billions of pounds.”

New measures will be rolled out after 800 new cases were confirmed across Scotland yesterday.

The Scottish Tourism Alliance (STA) has warned that the last round of restrictions resulted in self-catering traders suffering widespread cancellations, while the 10pm curfew led to many restaurants seeing their takings almost cut in half.

READ MORE: Pubs and restaurants set for restrictions

STA chief executive Marc Crothall, said: “The direct impact of the recent new restrictions is seeing businesses accelerating decisions on having to let staff go.

“We are hearing stories of increasing numbers of losses coming sooner than many people had hoped.

“People have already been cancelling bookings due to the risks and uncertainty.” Scotland’s pubs industry has warned that speculation over further restrictions being rolled out is filling the sector “with complete dread”.

Emma McClarkin, CEO of the Scottish Beer and Pub Association, added: “Pubs and the wider hospitality sector in Scotland are already suffering from the additional restrictive measures currently in place.

“The ban on background music and noise from televisions has already seen trade fall of a cliff for many premises, and the 10pm curfew has had a disproportionate impact in Scotland due to the normal closing time being midnight or 1am. This means that every week Scottish pubs are losing as many as 21 hours more trade than pubs elsewhere in the UK.

READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon rules out return of lockdown

“If the Scottish Government is to implement further harsh restrictive measures to our sector, it must include a dedicated package of support alongside it. Without it the Scottish Government will leave our pubs and thousands of jobs doomed to failure.”

Ms McClarkin said her organisation was “unaware of any data which shows that the hospitality sector is a major cause of transmission” of Covid-19. She added: “Scotland’s pubs are already on the brink.

“Further restrictive measures, whether complete closure or further restrictions of hours, without economic support, would mean hundreds of businesses closing for good with thousands of jobs lost and livelihoods ruined.”

Tourism bosses have also warned that financial support has been “not at the level it needs to be” for businesses already grappling with the current restrictions that face further uncertainty to survive the pandemic.

VisitScotland’s chief executive, Malcolm Roughead, added: “We’re now more than a week on from the tighter restrictions coming into force and it’s clear the industry is struggling.

“Across the country, there’s widespread anticipation of large-scale redundancies with the furlough/ business support schemes ending.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on the industry and it will need financial support for some time to come to help recovery, something we’ve no idea on timescales of yet.”

With potential restrictions including school closures and a travel ban ruled out, the First Minister admitted “that does bring into scope” further measures in the hospitality industry.

Currently, people are banned from visiting other Scots’ homes under nationwide restrictions, but can meet one other household, up to a maximum of six people, in pubs, restaurants and cafes.

Ms Sturgeon stressed that bars and restaurants “are the kind of places we come into contact with other people”.

The First Minister added: “We have already tried to act on one of the biggest risk factors, and the toughest thing I think we will ever do, of asking people not to visit others houses.

“If we’re not sure that’s enough, we have to look at the other settings in which people are more likely to come together – where they’re most likely to be coming into contact with large groups of other people where they could be passing it on.”