A raft of new restrictions unveiled by the Scottish government to combat Covid-19 is likely to pile pressure on retailers across the country.

As well as a ban on the sale of alcohol indoors and the closure of pubs and restaurants in the populous central belt, the two-metre social distancing rule has also been reimposed in shops. 

There is widespread speculation that similar restrictions may be introduced in parts of England over the next few days.

Scottish Retail Consortium director David Lonsdale said: ”Retailers have worked incredibly hard and responsibly to keep customers and staff safe throughout the pandemic, investing tens of millions of pounds on safety measures including plexiglass screens, social distancing and hygiene.

“They will strive to implement these latest changes too, albeit they are being asked to do so once again at absurdly short notice. Many will be baffled as to the justification for these new two-metre restrictions on stores in the absence of any evidence which shows shops are a source of infection.

“For many of our members with a hospitality offering the further temporary restrictions on trading hours will be hard to bear. Those operating cafes, coffee shops, and food-to-go restaurants have adopted every measure asked of them by government, despite the enormous impact on their business models.

“These additional restrictions may make it impractical for some to trade at all for this period, and the government must urgently provide details of the proposed support for these viable businesses.

“The impact of these latest restrictions on consumer confidence and our high streets remains to be seen, particularly in the run up to the critical Christmas trading period.

“More broadly we remain very concerned at the manner and detail of this announcement. Firms have been dealing with months of constantly changing regulations and guidance.

“We urgently need a more strategic and coherent approach which allows firms sufficient time to understand the regulations and their obligations, and to operationalise them. The current approach falls well short of what is required.”