A fund to help businesses affected by new restrictions will open this week- and South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth is urging local eligible businesses such as pubs and restaurants to apply.


However, the local MSP has accused the Scottish Government of letting down businesses in the Scottish Borders by preventing them accessing the highest level of grants.


The new grants are part of a £40m package announced by the Scottish Government last week. It will include a Coronavirus Restrictions Fund which will provide one-off grants of up to £3,000 to bars, restaurants and other businesses required to close by new restrictions, so only applies to businesses in central Scotland.


Businesses in Dumfries and Galloway will only have access to a smaller discretionary hardship fund administered by the local council with grants of between £1000 and £1,500, to support some businesses that can remain open but are directly impacted by the restrictions – including those in the direct supply chains of firms that are closed.


The current restrictions in Dumfries and Galloway mean pubs, restaurants and cafes are only allowed to open indoors until 6 pm, and will not be allowed to serve alcohol. They can serve alcohol outdoors until 10 pm.


As a result of the restrictions, a  large number of pubs in the Borders have simply closed for the period of the two week restrictions because they do have space available to serve drinks outside or because it isn’t financially viable to open.


Commenting on the new grants Colin Smyth said, “The new fund will open this week and be live until 3 November, so I would urge eligible businesses in the area to apply as soon as possible”.


“However, I am furious that businesses in the Borders will only be eligible for the smallest grants. The Scottish Government claim this is because while pubs and restaurants must close in the central belt, so they get grants double the level of those for our area.


“But for many local pubs, closure is the only option because they either do not have a suitable outdoor area to sell alcohol or the colder weather means there just isn’t demand, so they really haven’t had much option but to close. In those circumstances they should have been entitled to the larger grants and it’s really unfair that they will miss out”

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