Warnings that a lifting of lockdown by the end of January is “unlikely” have caused concern for businesses across Tayside.
At Holyrood yesterday, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the need for harsher restrictions was being explored, after the coronavirus death toll in Scotland passed 5,000 people.
The news was a blow for businesses across Dundee, with Alison Henderson, CEO of the Dundee and Angus Chamber of Commerce warning it would undoubtedly see some firms go to the wall.
She said: “I think that the longer businesses are subject to these conditions the more difficult it is going to be for them to survive.
“Another issue is that businesses are struggling to get the support that they need, the criteria for getting access to funds are really tricky.
“You have some businesses which don’t have a physical address, others which don’t fit in to one specific industry.
“I think everyone understands that these are difficult decisions but a lot of businesses don’t have the luxury of waiting any longer.”
Alison also claimed that dealing with Brexit and lockdown simultaneously may be a death sentence for some employers, adding: “Businesses are dealing with both this Covid shut down and Brexit.
“Undoubtedly, we’ll see business closures, people losing jobs and businesses struggling to survive.
“The continued uncertainty and rumblings of what might be coming, that just adds to the difficulties which these companies and businesses are facing.
“The lack of knowledge and anxiety is taking a terrible toll on people, it would be better to know for certain.”
In a bid to reduce the reasons for people leaving the house, Nicola Sturgeon suggested that takeaway services could be subject to stricter controls.
However, the comment sparked fear among the industry, prompting ten food and drink industry representatives to write a joint letter to the Scottish Government’s Rural Economy Secretary, Fergus Ewing MSP.
They wrote that limiting takeaway and click and collect businesses to delivery only will force many more firms to close their doors.
Steve Chow, manager of Best of China on Lochee Road, said a “full blown” closure of the sector would have a massive impact but didn’t envisage it.
He said: “The only realistic change I could see happening is that customers will no longer be able to collect orders.
“From the start of the pandemic the vast majority of our custom has been home deliveries anyway.
“Even if customers have been coming to collect, they’ve been waiting outside in the car and we’ve been bringing it out to them.
“If a decision is made to shut the sector down completely, I think this would have a massive impact on the takeaway industry across the city.
“There is a lot of confusion at the moment about the various changes that have been implemented to combat the virus.
“From our businesses perspective we have been serving key workers and people across the city throughout – whilst adhering to all the safety measures.
“Whether it’s been work commitments or other constraints that have hindered people from preparing meals the various takeaway services have been there to help.
“With that in mind, I think the only option would be just to stop collection services and ensure home deliveries continue to be carried out as safely as possible.”
Others in the city are also concerned about an extension to lockdown, such as Tommy Johnstone, a 52-year-old joiner.
He said: “I’ve got mixed views on it right now.
“I just got back from the USA and obviously things over there are much worse, a nightmare.
“I came back through London and on my first day here – December 1 – nobody seemed concerned there, it was like a normal day in a tourist city.
“I think that these lockdowns are important because they do keep people safe, but the extent to which they are going to is too stringent. Shutting down the economy is too far.
“It’s bad for the economy and that has a knock-on effect in the next few years.
“We shouldn’t be Level 4 or Level 5, I think that Level 3 is enough.”
However some, such as music shop worker Ross Holder, are more accepting of an extension.
The 23-year-old said: “To be honest, if they extend it and it finally lets us get things over with then I don’t mind it.
“I’m not adverse to it, it’s just bad that we have to do it. I guess we’ll just need to buckle up and get through.”
Jade Sangster, a 20-year-old student and youth worker, added: “I don’t mind if it has to be extended, but I do feel like this shows the incompetence of Boris Johnson and the Tory government, as well as how ineffective the union is.
“From what I understand, Nicola Sturgeon and the Scottish Government wanted to continue the original lockdown so that we wouldn’t have to do this, but the Tory government said that if England, or even just the south, aren’t doing furlough then nowhere was.”