Restrictions brought in to combat the Omicron variant before Christmas will be lifted across Scotland from Monday January 24, with nightclubs re-opening, social distancing rules in bars and restaurants shelved and large indoor events resuming.
Meanwhile, plan B coronavirus restrictions in England will stop on January 26 following encouraging signs from the latest data figures.
Current measures in England, including guidance to work from home and the widespread use of face coverings, were imposed in early December to help tackle the spread of Omicron.
Meanwhile, in Wales most restrictions will be scrapped over the next two weeks if Covid cases continue to fall, the first minister Mark Drakeford has confirmed.
In Northern Ireland restrictions remain in place.
Speaking about the changes in Scotland announced on Tuesday January 18, Andrew McRae, the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) Scotland policy chair, said: “Many of the people behind local businesses across Scotland will be relieved to hear they will soon return to trading conditions that are closer to normal. We’re also pleased the First Minister has listened to our representations about the disproportionate burden vaccine passports would have placed on smaller firms.
“However, the withdrawal of some covid restrictions doesn’t mean that local economies will necessarily bounce back. Public figures now need to work hard to build business and consumer confidence.”
FSB is urging Ministers to review the current situation with covid grants in Scotland.
Andrew McRae said: “It was disappointingly predictable that covid grants would be delayed because of Christmas holidays at public bodies. But it now looks likely that some firms won’t get financial help until well after the restrictions are lifted.
“With many operators facing dangerous problems with cashflow, Ministers need to reassure firms that help is in the pipeline. They must make sure that all sorts of businesses hit by recent measures get at least some help.
“The Scottish Government must pledge that all monies earmarked to help firms are used for this objective. Any underspend from current grant schemes should be used to help local businesses recover, adapt and grow.”
Responding to the latest statement from the First Minister following the Welsh Government’s Coronavirus review, Ben Francis, FSB Wales Policy Chair stated:
“FSB and our members appreciate the importance of keeping Wales safe, and the serious health implications of the Omicron variant. We fully recognise the challenges posed by the virus and the spread of the Omicron virus. Businesses in Wales have worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic to keep Wales safe and have diligently followed the guidance and advice placed forward by Welsh Government.
“In return, the FSB has called on the First Minister to ensure businesses are fairly funded and informed of what lies ahead. We are pleased that our calls for clarity have now been recognised, with the First Minister’s announcement of a roadmap, which outlines a lessening of restrictions over the course of the next two weeks. This brings much needed clarity for businesses in Wales, who are facing an increasingly challenging economic landscape.”