TOURISM chiefs in Scotland have warned of a 'wave of trauma and mental anguish' in the hospitality sector as a multi tier system was announced by Nicola Sturgeon.

The First Minister revealed the provisional coronavirus restrictions that will apply to different parts of Scotland from next week.

She said the Central Belt, including Glasgow and Edinburgh, is likely to move into level three of the new five-tier lockdown system.

Much of the rest of Scotland could fall under level two.

The levels will be confirmed on Thursday and will come into effect on Monday, November 2.

The new system runs from level zero, which is as close to normal as it is possible to get without better treatment or a vaccine, to level four, which is closer to a full lockdown.

Marc Crothall, chief executive of the Scottish Tourism Alliance, said: “Clarity on restrictions for hospitality businesses, as announced in parliament by the First Minister, will without a shadow of a doubt create a wave of trauma and mental anguish across the sector, with many hundreds of businesses who will fall into tier three or four now likely to stay closed beyond Christmas, or indeed permanently.

“Employees full and part-time who had hoped to return to work are now put at even greater risk unemployment.

“Average fixed costs for business far outweigh the levels of grant support advised and for many in the sector it remains unclear if they will qualify for any support at all.

“The gap between the funding that is available and the costs of overheads and maintaining staff levels has become too great and I would expect imminent announcements of redundancies on a worrying scale, particularly for any businesses placed in tier three or four.

“The financial and mental strain experienced by business owners in our sector, many of whom I have conversations on a daily basis with, is exacerbated by what is an extremely short timescale for implementing these measures; it is absolutely critical at this stage that more detailed information comes from the Scottish Government.

“Businesses have just days to make decisions on staffing levels, the procurement of stock and indeed in relation to whether or not it is viable to continue to trade at all.

“Without a robust package of support, our hospitality and tourism sectors are facing the bleakest of winters with very little hope of recovery beyond the beginning of 2021.”