Responding to the First Minister’s announcement in the Scottish Parliament this afternoon (Wednesday) about new restrictions, South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth said: “The news that the Scottish Government is going backwards on easing lockdown is a sobering reminder that it is more important than ever that we take precautions to keep ourselves and our communities safe. We need to continue to act responsibly and use common sense.

“We should never lose sight of the fact this virus is still out there and ultimately saving lives is the most important consideration in everything we do.

“However, I know many people in the south of Scotland will be very worried about what the new rules mean for them. I am very concerned about the situation for bars, pubs and restaurants. The changes to opening hours and the rules about not serving alcohol indoors will be felt particularly hard in the hospitality and tourism industries which employ thousands of people in the south of Scotland.

“Throughout the pandemic, these sectors have faced huge issues adjusting to the new ‘normal’ and with this announcement, it is inevitable many who work in these sectors will be extremely fearful about the future. Even before the latest restrictions there were many businesses struggling due to a lack of Government help but that will increase massively unless there is an urgent increase in support. Without that help, local businesses will close and thousands more lose their jobs in our region.

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