Business urges more clarity from government on Covid rules



Business leaders are voicing concern over a “lack of clarity” from government over Covid restrictions.

And businesses who work cross border have called for consistency between the systems in Scotland and England.

CBI Scotland director Tracy Black said: “Businesses would welcome further clarity on what these additional measures are expected to achieve and how their impact will be measured.

“Transparency around decision-making processes is crucial and a visible strategy for living with COVID-19 through the autumn and winter will be vital to protecting lives and livelihoods across Scotland.”

The statement comes as the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) has submitted a freedom of information request to the UK Business Department to determine what evidence base, if any, was used to inform Government guidance on the closure of businesses from 5 November.

In England the CBI have urged the UK Government to publish its approach to national coronavirus restrictions in England without delay, providing firms with at least one week’s notice ahead of 2 December 2, when the current lockdown there is due to end.

Ministers are also urged to provide scientific evidence for any continuing restrictions on specific business sectors.

The BCC said it wants to see an economic assessment of the impact continued business restrictions and closures are having on communities and the wider economy.

Government is also pressed to explain why businesses in a number of sectors have been forced to close despite taking “considerable steps at huge expense” to comply with Covid-secure guidance, including leisure, non-essential retail and beauty.

BCC director-general Adam Marshall said: “Nine months into the pandemic, business communities are still crying out for timely information and a clear strategy from government so that they can survive and rebuild.

“Delays and imprecision mean people lose their livelihoods. Firms are taking difficult decisions every day about their futures, and are tired of being left to rely on speculation and rumour.”

He said: “Businesses have played their part by working hard and spending hundreds of millions of pounds to become Covid-secure, in line with official guidance.

“Business communities – whether in England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland – cannot take another year of rushed stop-start restrictions from governments while vaccines are rolled out.”

Meanwhile managing director of a company which operates across the Scottish and English border has called for consistency in the Covid-19 rules between the two countries.

Eddie Black, who runs Eco Group, a solutions company based in Dumfries and Galloway with operations on both sides of the border, said businesses faced additional challenges operating under different guidance in different parts of the UK.

The call came as more than two million people are set to be placed under Scotland’s toughest Covid lockdown restrictions from Friday.

The move will see level four rules imposed in 11 council areas across western and central Scotland.

They will be imposed in East Dunbartonshire, East Renfrewshire, Glasgow, Renfrewshire and West Dunbartonshire, North and South Lanarkshire, East and South Ayrshire, Stirling and West Lothian.

The level four restrictions, which will mean non-essential shops, pubs, restaurants and gyms will have to close, will remain in place until 11 December.

England is in a national lockdown until 2 December .

Operating his business out of Annan, which is under Tier 2 level restrictions, from where Eco serves the whole of the UK, Eddie Black said: “We are across the border every day of the week, 24 hours a day, and we also have people deployed throughout the UK. Manufacturing and construction are still ongoing and we operate in these industries so we have to go to work.

“If the same rules applied across the UK, at least there would be clarity and consistency. When you live and work on the border, and there are different rules, you could be breaking the rules on one side or the other.”

The current Scottish Government guidance is that people avoid any unnecessary travel between Scotland and England.

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said she appreciated the difficulties that businesses faced but said the Scottish Government was taking a targeted and proportionate approach.

Eco, which employs more than 50 staff, operates across a range of sectors to deliver multiple products and services for commercial, industrial, public sector and residential customers.

The company has been praised for its rapid response to support the health sector during the pandemic, including delivering more than one million items of PPE to care homes across the UK in seven days.

As well as its base in Annan, Eco owns Ghyll House Upholstery and Design, which is based at Mealsgate, near Cockermouth, in Cumbria.



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