The Scottish government’s new five-tier system to take us through winter from 2nd November is not us “back to square one” according to Nicola Sturgeon who also announced today that she will match grants for businesses in Scotland with those in England but that the money “will eventually run out” because the Scottish government can’t borrow indefinitely like its English counterpart. She plans to consult with the trade before the framework is debated in parliament on Tuesday.
She said, “We have to rely on the (UK) Chancellor to provide the same funding guarantees (for Scotland) and that hasn’t been done so far. Without a resolution, the money the Scottish government has to pay for these grants will eventually run out. We have no powers to borrow, and we will be pushing for a resolution on this.”
Stephen Montgomery, spokesperson for the Scottish Hospitality Group told DRAM, “My first reaction is we as trade should have been consulted long before now. Consulting with us now is like putting the cart before the horse and is all very last-minute. Yet again it’s a race to the finish line for hospitality as far as where we are going to be financially is concerned and telling us the money is going to run out is like telling us we are on another lifeline when we need assurances of support and stability.”
From 2nd November, firms that are required by law to close will be eligible for grants every four weeks for as long as the restrictions last. Based on rateable values, awards will be for either £2,000 or £3,000. Businesses which can remain open, but are directly constrained by the measures, will be eligible for grants worth £1,400 or £2,100, again based on rateable value. This support is in addition to the UK Government’s revised furlough scheme launching on 1st November.
The first minister also said that while most businesses have gone to great lengths to make their venues safe, she we will be taking action against those that haven’t and that more Environmental Health Officers will be deployed to achieve this.
While cases in Scotland are still rising, the rate of infections appears to be slowing down as a result of the ban on household gatherings, but she said that it’s too early to tell whether the restrictions on hospitality have made any difference. Covid-19 cases in Scotland continue to rise with 1,401 registered on Friday alongside a further 18 deaths.
Details on the five tiers is on the Scottish government website but broadly speaking they are as follows:
Level zero: Closest to normality as possible and broadly comparable with August where meetings indoors were allowed and most businesses were open.
Level 1: Indoor household meetings of 6 people from 2 households allowed, as was the case in mid-September.
Level 2: Restrictions broadly similar to those outside the central belt at the moment.
Level 3: Like the restrictions in the central belt right now. However the government envisages restaurants being allowed to open – even partially. No non-essential travel.
Level 4: This will be imposed when transmission rates are high and there’s a risk to the NHS and is the closest to lockdown. 6 people can still meet outdoors from 2 households and manufacturing and construction business can stay open with safety measures in place.