A NEW roadmap is to help how we navigate through the Covid-19 minefield in the longer term and it is right that business organisations will be involved in developing the policy.

While it is understood direct aid – which the Scottish Government is now releasing – beyond certain levels is dependent on Westminster, economic planning is another key intervention Holyrood can make to keep commerce on track and in readiness for the next stage of what living with coronavirus will look like.

Again, we share First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s cautious optimism that we are about to turn the Omicron corner.

However, many businesses remain frustrated at restrictions still in place.
Nightclubs have been closed since Christmas, and rules including mandatory table service where alcohol is served and one-metre physical distancing still required in hospitality and leisure settings.

Guidance has meant pubs and restaurants have been open and running up bills, but, for many, few customers have shown up.


“Whilst people will be able to attend capacity sporting events from Monday, hospitality businesses will remain bound by table service, physical distancing and nightclubs closed,” said UKHospitality Scotland executive director Leon Thompson. “Restrictions, combined with messaging to avoid crowded places and to stay at home as much as possible, torpedoed hospitality’s hopes for a busy festive period.

“Many businesses were left counting the cost when another opportunity to start their recovery was snatched away.”

HeraldScotland: Hospitality revenues plummeted. Getty Images.Hospitality revenues plummeted. Getty Images.

Andrew McRae, of the Federation of Small Businesses in Scotland, said the next move “must be to ease the restrictions on hospitality firms like small cafes, restaurants, and pubs”.

He said the trade lost over Christmas and the debt accrued by firms will mean “tough business decisions for weeks and months to come”.

They are calling for the Covid curbs to be lifted this week.

It comes as enhanced restrictions on trading in Scotland “have failed to make any difference”, one business group warned.

Aberdeen and Grampian Chamber of Commerce said two-thirds of firms it polled do not believe that rules in place are proportionate to the threat posed by the Omicron variant.

While some high street resilience has been shown by retailer Next, it has also warned of significant headwinds in the months ahead, writes deputy business editor Scott Wright this week.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson picked an unusual victory upon which to heap praise this week, highlights business editor Ian McConnell, with one company lifting EU mobile charges, while “Mr Johnson will presumably know fine well, people with UK mobile phone contracts had a right to use their mobile data, call and text allowances across the EU with no extra charges until the country left the European single market”.

HeraldScotland: The Glasgow buildingThe Glasgow building

What can office workers expect when they return? The new owners of a high-profile property have announced plans to double its floorspace to take advantage of the imbalance between supply and demand for Grade A office accommodation in Glasgow, Kristy Dorsey reports.

As the country braces for fuel cost hikes, Mark Williamson examines whether a windfall tax on North Sea firms could ease the gas price pain.

HeraldScotland: Source: Office for National StatisticsSource: Office for National Statistics