NICOLA Sturgeon has been warned that a return to Covid restrictions could “jeopardise” business recovery in Scotland.

The Scottish Chambers of Commerce (SCC) has written to the First Minister ahead of the scheduled Scottish Government coronavirus statement on Tuesday when an update to Scotland’s Covid-19 Strategic Framework is due to be published.

Dr Liz Cameron, chief executive of the SCC, said a return to Covid restrictions, or an expansion of current ones, could damage the hospitality and retail sector as they enter the “golden quarter”.

As the important Christmas period approaches, the Scottish Government were urged to “seriously consider” any ramifications restrictions could have on Scots firms.

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Dr Cameron said: “This is a critical time for Scotland’s businesses as we enter the Golden Quarter over the festive period where many businesses make most of their earnings for the year, and our members remain concerned about the impact that an expansion of Covid-19 restrictions and vaccine certification will have on them financially.

“Many businesses have gone above and beyond what is required of them when it comes to supporting public health measures, investing millions to ensure the safety and well-being of our employees, customers, suppliers, and communities.”

Businesses would back an expansion of vaccine passports if the evidence being provided “was clear,” Cameron said.

She added that businesses remain “unconvinced” at this time that the public health benefits of an extension to the scheme outweigh the negatives for “individuals, businesses and the economy”.

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She continued: “The SCC network have written to the Scottish Government to outline the concerns of Scotland’s business community and asking for the First Minister to seriously consider the economic damage that a return, or expansion of current restrictions, will have on Scotland’s economy by jeopardising recovery, creating more uncertainty for businesses and undermining consumer confidence.”

Cameron also said any chance requiring staff to work from home could be a “devastating” blow on town and city centres reliant on trade from office workers.

She said: “The modelling being put forward by the Scottish Government fails to demonstrate that ‘workplace’ transmission is taking place in office settings, and with office occupancy and return rates remaining low, a further encouragement of home working will have a devastating impact on our town and city centre economies, which rely on office worker footfall, and which are already struggling to adjust to changes in consumer behaviour and competition from on-line retailers.

“A return to a stronger message on encouraging home working from the Scottish Government, after months of collaborative working with businesses during which it was agreed that a gradual and phased return to offices could be done safely, would be a considerable step backwards.”

The Scottish Government has been contacted for comment.