Regional Chambers of Commerce make joint call for map and timetable out of restrictions

Edinburgh, West Lothian, Midlothian and East Lothian, Scottish Borders and Fife Chambers of Commerce have called for more clarity on the timeline for ending restrictions ahead of the First Minister’s announcement next week of the outcome of the Scottish Government’s latest review of lockdown restrictions,

Keith Barbour, Joint Chief Executive at Midlothian and East Lothian Chamber, Liz Mcareavey, Chief Executive at Edinburgh Chamber, Emily McGowan, Interim Chief Executive Officer at Scottish Borders Chamber, Brenda Cumming, Chamber Manager at West Lothian Chamber and Alan Mitchell, Chief Executive of Fife Chamber, said:

“The recent announcement by Edinburgh Airport that it has recorded its lowest number of passengers since 1995 has brought the wider impact of Covid sharply into focus, with the passenger reduction at the airport costing the Scottish economy over £1bn and 20,000 jobs.   The local authority areas we cover are suffering from the travel restrictions that have impacted so heavily on Edinburgh Airport.   We all see the effect of such a massive drop in visitors on the businesses we represent.  Sadly, it is an all too familiar story to us over the last year.

“We agree that controlling the spread of the virus is vital, but running alongside this we need clear thinking and messaging from the Government on how and when we will emerge from lockdown and start rebuilding our devastated communities and economy.   We need a sightline and timeline for re-opening businesses, re-starting work, opening offices, creating opportunities for young people and being able to freely travel and trade nationally and internationally.  Whilst we have promises that the new vaccines now reduce transmission of the virus, as well as minimising symptoms, there is no plan or timeline we can all get behind to start the process of recovery and rebuilding. This is needed urgently, so businesses can start planning for the future and we can minimise the long-term damage done by Covid.

“With commentators already projecting Scotland may not see full economic recovery from the pandemic before 2024, there is an urgent need to get our businesses and our local and international borders and trade routes opened up as quickly as possible.   Businesses need to start the process of planning for a full re-opening and rebuilding of our economy to protect jobs, create opportunities and deliver prosperity and a better future for our communities, but they cannot do that when the only guidance they get from the Scottish Government about re-opening is that restrictions will be removed when it is safe to do so.  The First Minister has an opportunity to provide some much needed clarity when she announces the results of the next formal review of the current restrictions, and she must take advantage of it.”

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