image captionSoft play cannot open until Scotland is in level 1
“Happy Monday” saw retail, hospitality and leisure start to pick up the pieces after a four-month lockdown.
But more than a year after the first lockdown, not every business survived. And some remain tied to crippling restrictions.
As infection levels drop and vaccination numbers grow, there is finally hope for the economy.
Some business owners who were not celebrating reopening on Monday tell us why they feel forgotten.
‘They think we are not responsible enough to keep Covid rules’
image captionJo Lawrence fears for her catering business Jo’s kitchen
Jo Lawrence built her successful catering business from scratch to an award-winning wedding and event supplier.
This week her Haddington-based company, Jo’s Kitchen, will bring in not much more than £200, barely enough to cover basic costs.
While her competition gets back to running weddings allowing 50 guests, with numbers expected to rise to 100 in June and 200 in July, Jo is not allowed to operate.
The reason? She caters for marquee weddings, and those are not allowed.
She has been advised that the marquee ban is due to concerns that outdoor venues may not comply with social distancing restrictions as rigorously as hotels and restaurants. Environmental health officers would not be allowed on private land to carry out checks.
However, a hotel or restaurant can set up a marquee in a car park or garden outside their venue to facilitate outdoor events.
image captionMarquee weddings are not included in the reopening plan at this stage
Jo finds it insulting. She told BBC Radio’s Good Morning Scotland programme: “This seems to be because they deem there won’t be a responsible person on site to keep the Covid rules, which is utterly ridiculous.
“We follow rules with alcohol, health and hygiene, safety, with chemicals, every day of the year normally. So I cannot understand why they won’t give us responsibility to run our previously successful businesses.”
The business was not eligible for any government help during the pandemic.
Jo said: “Outside catering didn’t fall into any of the funding brackets because we were told we didn’t have to close.”
However, there were no events to cater for. Jo found a way to get by.
“I was determined not to lose my business because I had worked so hard to build it up to a very reputable and very well known and respected business. So within a week we turned it around to do home deliveries, feasts to people’s homes, small catering for families and we sustained it until Christmas.
“By January all the hotels and restaurants which have been getting money every month were doing it too. And now the restaurants have reopened we have £200 of orders this week which doesn’t start to pay my bills.
“It’s demoralising and distressing and we don’t know whether we’ll be able to stay in business.”
The Scottish government said that wedding receptions, including in marquees, were allowed in regulated venues, such as hotels and wedding venues.
A spokesman said: “Wedding receptions, including in marquees, are not currently allowed at private dwellings. This has not changed from our previous approach.”
‘Adults can use a climbing wall, but kids can’t go on a climbing frame’
image captionCraig Meikle has spent six years building up his business and has had to consider insolvency as an option
Craig Meikle’s business has been closed since lockdown began on 23 March 2020. In the space of 14 months, Saltire soft play and football centre in Dalkeith has gone from a business without debts to one that owes more than £200,000 and won’t open its doors until at least June.
Soft play is in the same category as nightclubs in the route map out of lockdown and Craig was frustrated that a trampoline park next door opened on Monday, and cafes and climbing centres in his area are back in business.
“Adults can go to a climbing centre, climb on a climbing frame, but kids can’t come to a soft play to climb about on a climbing frame. The schools are in, nurseries are in, kids sports clubs are back. It’s madness.”
Soft plays can open in level one under the route map which is currently expected to happen on 7 June.
Craig added: “I won’t get excited until we have a definitive date for opening. Our problem is not going to be opening, it’s going to be surviving until October when the weather is worse and trade picks up after the summer.
“My worries start when we do get to reopen because then the creditors we have accumulated will have to be paid and we don’t know how remaining restrictions will affect our capacity.”
‘It’s heart-wrenching that the store won’t open again’
image captionDebenhams stores in Scotland will not reopen after lockdown unlike others across the rest of the UK
The pandemic and the economic effects of lockdown mean Jacqui Johnston’s Debenhams retail job doesn’t exist any more.
Watching the reopening of non-essential stores was painful in the knowledge the Aberdeen department store she worked in would not be opening its doors again.
“It was absolutely horrendous,” she said. “I’ve worked 30-odd years in retail and never seen anything like it.”
Jacqui ran a beauty counter in the store and was called upon to wind it up.
She said: “I worked for Guerlain and I had to go in and pack up the entire counter. It was the worst thing ever, knowing I would never see it again. It still upsets me now, we couldn’t say goodbye to colleagues, nothing.”
Jacqui struggled mentally and had a breakdown, finding her feet after seeking help for her wellbeing. She is now launching an online business, helping people with their mindset.
She said: “I am 52 and not at a good age to be employable. I have had to retrain to start a new business from scratch. It’s not my first choice. I like having a job to go into.”
‘Scotland could become very bleak culturally’
image captionTRNSMT is now the main focus for Geoff Ellis
Meanwhile, Geoff Ellis, chief executive of DF Concerts, has claimed the live entertainment industry has been left in limbo without further guidance on when it will be able to operate without social distancing.
Speaking to BBC Radio Scotland’s Mornings show, he said: “We were the first to close and will be the last to open, we know that, but we need to start planning now.
“What England has is the confidence to plan; the councils are planning, event organisers are planning to go ahead and fans are buying tickets.
He claimed Scotland was losing events because there was not a date for reopening without social distancing and warned the situation means “there’s a danger Scotland becomes very bleak culturally”.