HOPES are high that East Renfrewshire’s economy will be lifted this week, with Nicola Sturgeon set to allow small shops and other businesses to reopen for the first time in months.

Business bosses are eagerly awaiting details of phase two of the First Minister’s ‘road map to recovery,’ with an announcement expected tomorrow.

But in a grim observation of the damage already caused, East Renfrewshire Chamber of Commerce has said it is impossible to say at this stage how many local jobs and businesses have been lost as a result of Covid-19.

Chamber president Laura Molloy told the Barrhead News she does not expect the full impact on businesses to become apparent until they reopen and revenue can be more realistically forecast.

“We must remember that there are many businesses who will not be able to open – and they must not be left behind as the government focuses on recovery rather than support measures,” she said.

“The ability to bring back staff on a part-time basis will help some businesses make a staged return and the continued support through the Job Retention Scheme and Self-Employment Income Support Scheme is a lifeline for many.”

The Chamber network is working behind the scenes to continue to pressure the Scottish Government to close any gaps in funding provision.

Ms Molloy added: “The recent changes which allow businesses who were previously not eligible for the Small Business Rate Relief grant to be able to claim is a great example of that.

“Locally, we are working with the Business Improvement Districts and Business Gateway to respond directly to local business needs – examples being the recent distributed floor vinyls and Gateway’s webinars on preparing to open their business. We are developing plans to help businesses navigate the new normal and make potential customers feel safe as they shop locally, both on and offline.”

Ms Molloy has urged local businesses to get in touch with the Chamber and highlight their needs, as this will help to shape future support.

Phase two of the easing of lockdown restrictions allows for construction, factories, warehouses, laboratories and small shops to resume work. In addition, playgrounds and sports courts will be able to reopen.

People will be able to meet in larger groups outdoors, as well as meeting members of another household indoors.