Scotland’s first minister Nicola Sturgeon has made a series of announcements which allow Scottish businesses to reopen.
Reacting to the ease in lockdown rules, David Lonsdale, director of the Scottish Retail Consortium, said: “Scottish Ministers have clearly listened to a number of the representations that the retail industry has made in determining further relaxations of lockdown.
“Lifting the five mile limit, not asking shopworkers to enforce the wearing of face coverings, and accepting our argument that physical distancing could be reduced when appropriate mitigations are in place, will help retailers’ operations without impinging on public health. More steps will be needed, but there is much retailers can support in the First Minister’s announcement.”
Commenting on the lack of a firm date for reopening shopping centres, he said: “Headway is being made on the phased re-opening of the retail industry, and the go-ahead for food-to-go retailers to open their outdoor seating from 6 July is positive and should help encourage people back to our retail destinations.”
Adding: “However, the lack of a definitive and firm date for the re-opening of stores in shopping centres and malls is unfortunate, some fifteen weeks after they were shuttered due to lockdown. Until those centres and malls reopen many non-essential shops will remain closed, and that means there are fewer reasons for people to visit Scotland’s town centres and high streets. Hopefully the continued progress in tackling coronavirus will encourage Ministers to provide much needed clarity very soon on this.”
Lonsdale went on to reflect on the proposed relaxation of the 2 metre physical distancing restrictions for retailers as one of three sectoral exemptions.
He explained: “We recognise the delicate balancing act between public health and economic recovery, and we believe the decision to allow retail businesses from 10 July to operate with reduced physical distancing where they can demonstrate it is safe is a sensible and welcome compromise.
“The reduction will support shops, which have faced limits and caps on footfall into store – and therefore spending – as a result of the physical distancing measures. Retailers have worked hard and have already taken numerous steps to keep customers and colleagues safe, and we will aim to work closely with Government to ensure there is clear and proportionate guidance in this area.”