Europe

The final straw! Sturgeon brutally attacked for slamming brakes on Scotland’s lockdown end

SNP ‘tactics paid for by South East of England’ says expert

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Earlier today the Scottish First Minister said that she was pausing plans to ease Covid restrictions in much of the country. This has left millions of Scots living under the draconian restrictions for longer than they had anticipated.

Many have reacted angrily – especially as the UK’s successful vaccination programme has seen the vast majority of people most vulnerable to Covid be fully vaccinated.

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) said her announcement – which heaps pressure on the UK’s other nations to follow suit – amounted to “two steps forward but one step back”.

Andrew McRae, FSB’s Scotland policy chairman, also warned many local operators could face “the final straw” while grappling with trading restrictions as the furlough scheme is gradually withdrawn from July.

He added: “We’ve gone from lockdown to slowdown, and patience and cash reserves are in short supply.

“From the start of July, the furlough scheme will begin to get wound down but it looks like businesses in Scotland will still face substantial trading restrictions.

“This could be the final straw for many local operators, and decision-makers in Edinburgh and London must avoid this crunch point.

“We need to get urgent financial help to firms who took on workers in anticipation of greater freedoms but now can’t furlough these employees.”

David Lonsdale, director of the Scottish Retail Consortium, said that the “thrust of the easing is undoubtedly encouraging” but many retailers rely on the “economic ecosystem that office workers provide”.

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Scotland has adopted a five-tier system of Covid restrictions.

It had been hoped most of the country would be able to move to Level 1 this month.

But as the highly transmissible Indian mutation continues to sweep across the UK, Ms Sturgeon said the country was still at a “delicate and fragile point”.

She went on to announce that 13 local authority areas, including Edinburgh, Dundee and Stirling, will remain in Level 2.

However, from Saturday, Glasgow, which has been under the strictest restrictions in all of Scotland, will see these relaxed somewhat, with the city moving to Level 2.

On that date, many island communities will move to Level 0, while 15 council areas will step down to Level 1.

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