South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth welcomed the news last week that indoor soft play centres are to be given grants of up to £50,000 to help them cope with the “exceptional circumstances” of the pandemic.
However, he also wants the Scottish Government to commit to a properly funded, long term strategy to ensure indoor soft play centres can survive in a post-Covid world.
Indoor soft play centres have been closed since lockdown began at the end of March, amid concerns about the spread of Covid-19. Many other businesses were able to reopen as restrictions eased.
The Scottish Government last week announced support for soft play facilities, with grants linked to firms’ rateable value.
Companies operating across more than one premises will be able to claim one full grant, with grants of up to 75% for subsequent properties.
Soft play centres opened in England in mid-August but they have remained closed in Scotland.
Colin Smyth said: “I have pressed the Government time and time again to come up with support for indoor soft play centres, so I am pleased at long last we are seeing a much-needed lifeline for centres across the south of Scotland.
“Soft play and indoor play centres closed like every other business during the initial lockdown but months down the line, owners and staff have been understandably feeling very worried about what the future holds.
“Earlier in the pandemic, when lockdown measures were starting to be eased, the Scottish Government faced choices about what to open and when. They made the choice that soft play centres should remain closed in Scotland, although they opened in every other part of the UK.
“Given that Covid-19 cases are increasing and we’re all living under increasingly tight restrictions, it doesn’t look like indoor soft play will be able to re-open any time soon. However, it is important the Scottish Government commits to a properly funded, long-term strategy to ensure indoor soft play centres can survive in a post-Covid world and that will take considerable work.”