Business groups have called on the Scottish Government to provide firms with a routemap out lockdown after First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced restrictions will remain in force until at least the end of February.
The Scottish Government previously said the lockdown for Level 4 areas – mainland Scotland and some islands areas – would last until at least mid-February.
Ms Sturgeon said restrictions have reduced the prevalence of the virus, and depending on progress “we may be able to look at a careful and gradual easing at around the start of March”.
Schools in Scotland will return on a phased basis from February 22, subject to final confirmation in two weeks’ time.
Andrew McRae, the Federation of Small Businesses’ (FSB) Scotland policy chairman, said: “Another lockdown extension heaps more pressure on debt-laden Scottish businesses, with many firms considering whether they should shut up shop for good.
“To minimise the number of business failures, ministers need to outline their provisional re-opening timetable and provide new support to firms that have had little or no help throughout this crisis.
“On the other hand, today’s announcement lifts a little weight from the shoulders of parents of the youngest children in Scotland.
“It means by the end of the month, fewer workers and self-employed people will have to juggle childcare with other responsibilities.”
Liz Cameron, chief executive of the Scottish Chambers of Commerce, said: “It will come as little surprise to Scottish businesses that restrictions will be in place for at least the rest of the month.
“Many will be disappointed that non-essential shops will remain closed, not least because of the immense investment the sector has made so they are safe for employees and customers.
“Ultimately, the best route to support the economy is to re-open.
“That’s why we urgently need an economic roadmap to recovery that outlines clear conditions and timelines for reopening sectors of the economy if we are to protect businesses and jobs.”
Tracy Black, CBI Scotland director, said: “While businesses recognise the rationale for extending lockdown, there’s a growing need to start planning for the re-opening of the economy once it is safe to do so.
“Jobs, firms and livelihoods can all be saved by undertaking important preparations now.
“Business has supported the strategic framework approach to reopening the economy, seeing it as a transparent way to explain decision-making around restrictions.
“By building a routemap now for exiting the current lockdown, we can minimise economic casualties in the coming weeks and months.”
The measures have been extended by the Scottish Government to try and stop the spread of coronavirus and protect the NHS.