Nicola Sturgeon: Balancing economic and health needs is almost impossible

MORE details about a £40 million Scottish Government fund to help the hospitality sector cope with new coronavirus restrictions could be revealed on Friday, Nicola Sturgeon said.

The First Minister made the comment as she told of how she grapples with decision making with “lives in one hand and jobs in the other”.

Sturgeon said ministers are attempting to “the best of our ability” to balance the needs of protecting lives during a pandemic with the needs of businesses and the economy.

She said it is “an impossible, almost, balance to strike”, as she accepted there will be “difficult” consequences from the latest restrictions she announced yesterday.

READ MORE: FMQs: Why all MSPs are wearing blue badges in the Scottish Parliament today

Pubs and other licensed premises across most of central Scotland will be forced to close for just over two weeks from Friday, while those in other areas will have new restrictions to comply with.

Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard accused Sturgeon of keeping the hospitality sector “in the dark” on the new restrictions, which industry leaders say could result in tens of thousands of job losses.

During First Minister’s Questions, Leonard said: “The First Minister did not get up yesterday and decide to impose restrictions on pubs, restaurants and other hospitality establishments, it must have taken several days to come to that conclusion.

“Which is why there should have been consultation with the industry and with the trade unions who represent the workforce in that industry.”

Sturgeon said there are “ongoing” discussions with businesses, trade unions and others.

But she added: “These are not normal times and these are not normal decision making processes, and I know how difficult the consequences of these decisions are for businesses and for individuals.

“I don’t expect these decisions to be welcome or popular, they are tough decisions, but they ultimately have to be made by Government.

“And every day right now we are facing decisions where we literally have lives in one hand and jobs in the other.”


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