Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 8th December 2020.

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The First Minister:

The Scottish Government engages closely with the local political leadership in Glasgow and with the business community, including retail, in Glasgow and across the country. In fact, the decision to enable retail to reopen at 6 am on Friday as opposed to 6 pm was the result of a specific request from the retail sector, which I think was sensible. The sector judges that the measure will enable it to manage any potential rush back to the shops better than it would if shops opened at 6 pm and the first full day was a Saturday, when people are less likely to be at work. It was a sensible suggestion and one that the Scottish Government has responded to.

I know how devastating the impact is on every part of the country but particularly, with regard to retail, in areas such as Glasgow. Glasgow is my home and I know how much the retail sector in the city centre matters to the health of the city. However, it simply would not be sensible to encourage or allow people from all over the country to come and shop in Glasgow in the run-up to Christmas. Like me, many members will have seen the scenes involving crowds of people in certain London shopping streets at the weekend. I certainly hope that we will not see that replicated here. That is why we have to manage the situation carefully. We will continue to discuss with the local leadership in all council areas and with local businesses how we ensure that support is available not just in the immediate term but as we go into the recovery phase.