BUSINESS chiefs in West Dunbartonshire have urged people in Clydebank to support their local shops after many reopened their doors this week for the first time since lockdown.

Non-essential retailers were given permission to reopen from Monday morning, with strict social distancing measures in place, after First Minister Nicola Sturgeon hailed Scotland’s progress in the fight against coronavirus.

And outdoor hospitality – including beer gardens in pubs – will be able to resume from Monday, July 6, subject to the latest advice from the Scottish Government’s scientific advisory group.

Damon Scott, chief executive of the Dunbartonshire Chamber of Commerce, said it was vital for the public to show support for local businesses – but warned that many face a challenging future as they attempt to recover from the devastating blow of the lockdown.

Mr Scott said: “We now need our communities to get behind those businesses and use the wonderful goods and services they offer locally in a safe manner.

“The Chamber continues to work hard to support businesses through our #Together ForBusiness campaign that has already proved a life-line for many businesses with attendances running into the hundreds for our virtual events, access to free up-to-date information, expert advice and opportunities for our community to stay connected and build relationships.

“As lockdown restrictions are being lifted we have moved our focus towards the re-emerging economy and how we can help our local enterprises get back to business again.

“We welcome the funding the Scottish Government has made available which is designed to support town centres.

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“Many of our local businesses have worked amazingly hard to continue to provide products and services during lockdown as well as meeting needs and supporting the community in a variety of other ways - often on a voluntary basis.

“A significant number of businesses have suffered big losses in income and many will face ongoing challenges for the foreseeable future.

“It is therefore vital that our communities repay these efforts and goodwill by supporting local businesses as we come out of lockdown to protect jobs and impact positively on the local economy.”

The government also announced last week that indoor hospitality venues would be able to reopen – again subject to scientific advice – from July 15, along with hairdressers and barbers, as long as enhanced hygiene measures are in place.

Clydebank’s MSP, Gil Paterson, said: “I am delighted to see Scotland take a step forward in returning to some normality after these crazy circumstances we have found ourselves in for more than two months.

“While I encourage constituents to make use of all their freedoms, please be sensible and bear in mind we are still seeing regular deaths from the coronavirus.

“It will not be long until all of these temporary restrictions are lifted and we can work on rebuilding our economy after this once-in-a-lifetime pandemic crisis.

“Again, I would like to thank constituents for the efforts they have gone to in this great battle against this deadly virus, and all those NHS and key workers keeping society from falling apart during the lockdown.”