Aberdeen’s city leaders have reacted with dismay to new restrictions brought in to curb the spread of Covid-19.
Bars, pubs and restaurants across the city will no longer be able to serve alcohol indoors – and must close inside at 6pm.
Tighter measures have been introduced in five health boards in the central belt, where the infection rate is higher than in other parts of the country.
It comes as 1,054 people tested positive for Covid-19 in Scotland, 34 of those in the north-east in the past day.
The latest update shows the number of positive cases in the country since the outbreak began has risen to 34,760.
Douglas Lumsden and Jenny Laing, the co-leaders of Aberdeen City Council, insisted the new measures could have been avoided if areas with a high prevalence of coronavirus had been locked down several weeks ago.
The pair warned the new restrictions could lead to job losses in Aberdeen’s hospitality sector.
And Mr Lumsden accused First Minister Nicola Sturgeon of having “lost the plot”.
He said: “A lot of businesses have closed up and won’t be opening again. Loads of jobs are going to be lost.
“Infections started to rise here and the city was locked down – but that hasn’t happened in other areas.
“The First Minister has lost the plot. She bottled it and wouldn’t lock the central belt down – and now the rest of the country is being punished.”
He added: “We are now in a situation where it might have been better for businesses if we had a full lockdown, because they would have more chance of accessing financial support.”
Meanwhile, Ms Laing warned the impact of the virus on the city would be felt for “many, many years”.
She and Mr Lumsden previously warned “thousands” of jobs were at risk in the north-east because of restrictions imposed on the hospitality sector.
She said: “We are bitterly disappointed that yet again the Aberdeen hospitality sector has been hit by the introduction of further restrictions.
“It seems to us these restrictions are having to be put in place because the Scottish Government didn’t lock down the central belt quickly enough, and the infection has now spread.
“The Scottish Government were quick enough to lock down Aberdeen, and if they had taken that same swift action we wouldn’t be finding ourselves in the position we are now in order to tackle increasing infection rates.
“We have nowhere near the numbers that have been reported in other areas, yet the restrictions are still being imposed on residents here.
“I am fearful for the hospitality sector and whether they are going to be able to survive these restrictions.
“Business owners and staff must be wondering whether they will have jobs to go back to at the end of this.
“We will be picking up the pieces of this for many, many years to come – long after a vaccine has been found.”
In announcing the new measures, Ms Sturgeon said: “Without action we are likely to return to the peak level of infections we had in the spring by the end of this month.
“We must consider the direct harm to health from the virus – which must be reduced – but do that alongside the harm being done to jobs and the economy, which in turn has an impact on people’s health and wellbeing.
“And we have to consider the wider harms to health and wellbeing that the virus – and the restrictions deployed to control it – are having on all of us.
“For all of these reasons, we are applying a far more targeted approach than we did in March – one which reduces opportunities for the virus to spread, while keeping businesses and other activities as open as possible.
“We hope that the restrictions already in place and those I have announced today will stem the increase in new cases. But I can’t stress enough that is fundamentally is down to all of us.
“The more we comply with all of the restrictions and advice the more effective they will be.
“It is also important because we want these restrictions to be temporary that we use the next two weeks to prepare, protect and prevent – to further strengthen our resilience and our ability to live alongside this virus.”