Soft play centres and nightclubs are to be granted sums of up £50,000 to help them cope with the “exceptional circumstances” of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Scottish Government is making the one-off payment available to businesses in both sectors as part of its Covid-19 contingency fund.

Both nighclubs and soft play businesses have responded with anger when it was announced that they have had to stay shut even when other businesses have been able to open after lockdown.

But some seven months after they closed their doors, the Scottish Government has announced targeted support via a new fund.

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Payments of up to £50,000 will be available from the Covid-19 Contingency Fund, with grants linked to the rateable value of businesses.

Companies operating across multiple premises will be able to claim one full grant, with grants of up to 75% for subsequent properties.

Business minister Jamie Hepburn said: “We know that nightclubs and soft play centres have been particularly badly hit by this pandemic – unlike the majority of businesses, they have not been allowed to open since March.

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“These grants take account of those exceptional circumstances and will provide a boost as we continue to tackle the virus.

“We don’t want any business to remain closed for a day longer than is necessary but public health is paramount.

“Unfortunately we are at a critical point with infection levels rising again and it is not safe to lift restrictions on these activities.”

The minister said local councils would contact businesses in their area directly “to get the information needed to progress their claim”.

Liz Cameron, chief executive of the Scottish Chambers of Commerce, said the new funding “provides an essential lifeline to important areas of the economy that have forced to remain closed since the start of lockdown”.

She added: “It almost goes without saying that it is vital these grants are now rolled out as quickly as possible.”

With guidance due to be published this week by the Scottish Government to help soft play centres prepare for re-opening when it is safe to do so, Ms Cameron added: “It is very positive that, at last, we will have guidance on when soft play centres might be able to reopen. Not only will it be a great boon for parents and carers of young people, but the sector has been Covid-safe for some time and deserves the opportunity to begin trading again.

“We urge the Scottish Government to continue to work with these businesses to support the safe reopening of soft play centres, to protect the jobs and livelihoods within the sector.”