Scottish Government Publishes Updated Strategic Framework – 24/02/21

Yesterday (23rd Feb), in a statement to the Scottish Parliament, the First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon presented details of the updated Strategic Framework for a return to ‘normal’ life, setting out initial priorities and providing an indicative timeframe for cautiously easing lockdown restrictions.
In her statement, Ms Sturgeon confirmed that the country will move back into a levels system from end of April and that there will be a “phased and significant” reopening of the economy thereafter. The First Minister confirmed that there will be “discussions over the next couple of weeks as we put further flesh on the plans we set out today” and that the Scottish Government will publish a further document in mid March outlining more detail.
Ms Sturgeon also acknowledged that there is a need for greater support for many businesses; “We are also considering some form of tapered support for businesses that may still face trading restrictions and reduced demand, even as they are allowed to re-open” and that the Scottish Government will be working with business organisations on this and other issues as we emerge from lockdown.
Disappointingly, there was little mention of tourism in the statement, but the key points pertaining to our sector are:

  • There will be a moving back to a levels system from the last week in April with all parts of the country currently in level 4 moved back to level 3
  • From 5th April restrictions on outdoor gatherings will be eased so that at least 6 people from 2 households can meet together.
  • From the last week of April there will be a phased but significant re-opening of the economy, including non-essential retail, outdoor hospitality and services like gyms and hairdressers.
  • The Strategic Framework Business fund (SFBF) will be in place at least the end of June.
  • When exiting level four, businesses that are allowed to reopen will continue to receive payments from the SFBF Temporary Closures Grant for at least the next four weeks
  • Tapered support is also being considering for businesses that may still face trading restrictions and reduced demand. 

Members should be made aware that, following the publication of the updated Strategic Framework, the ASVA Board will be meeting the Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy & Tourism, Fergus Ewing, on Wednesday 3 March to discuss the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and related restrictions on our sector. In the meeting, amongst other things, we will be emphasising the need for substantial ongoing financial support whilst our industry is still subjected to restrictions and will be seeking further clarity about the re-opening of our sector.
You can view the First Minister’s statement here and the updated Strategic Framework document can be found at this link.