Ayrshire is facing a “triple whammy” after the area was moved into level 4 COVID restrictions this week, according to South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth.

The change means non-essential retail and hospitality have been closed and additional travel restrictions have been imposed.

Ayrshire has not only followed the rest of mainland Scotland in being placed into the lockdown measures on Boxing Day, despite East and South Ayrshire only recently moving down from level 4 to level 3 restrictions, but there are fears the lockdown may last longer than three weeks due to the impact of the easing of restrictions at Christmas. Concerns have also been raised that some business support won’t be paid out until well into next year.

South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth said, “The move back into near lockdown will be tough for Ayrshire. Local people worked hard to follow the rules and as a result restrictions fell to level 3 in East and South Ayrshire just week ago but that has been taken away overnight.”

“The decision by the Scottish Government to ease the rules over Christmas in the way they did, is likely to result in more cases and therefore I fear the claim that this lockdown is just for three weeks may prove to be premature”.

“Help for local businesses affected by the restrictions has also been too slow, with the Government admitting that some support may not be paid for months with applications for some scheme not even open yet. It’s all very well for the Government to announce funding but that needs to land in businesses bank accounts now, not in the spring”

“It really is a triple whammy for Ayrshire with an increase in restrictions, a fear they may last longer than announced and the lack of immediate support for many local businesses”.

“I would urge people to keep sticking to the tough new rules to minimise the virus spread, but I appreciate there is a growing feeling that the virus won’t ever be under control until the vaccination programme has been rolled out to far more people and we are still a few months away from that it seems”.

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