RE-IMPOSED restrictions are a bitter blow – not least to the hospitality sector which has borne the brunt of it.

There are arguments over why and where the virus is flaring up again but what’s unquestionable is it’s happening – and across Europe too. It’s for that reason that similar measures are being applied in France, Belgium, Ireland and beyond.

It’s correct that the east of the county has been spared. But the Western Isles were Covid-free for a long time, yet the recent outbreak in South Uist is one of the worst, showing that no area is exempt and the speed and virulence with which this virus can travel. There are outbreaks in the west of the county and considerable risk exists.

None of that makes it any easier for the sectors that are restricted. It’s been challenging enough and this compounds the agony for those who’ve built up a business, work in it or supply it. For that reason, action by both Scottish and Westminster Governments is essential, not just to sustain them through the next few weeks but through the winter. For many, not just the season but the year is gone.

Furlough should be extended beyond just these designated temporary lockdowns. Financial packages must be available to keep the business alive until a proper season can commence next year. Other schemes should be considered. Italy has reduced VAT on alcohol in restaurants.

Surely, it’s better that people drink in a supervised fashion with regulated measures. Likewise, excise duty for pubs and restaurants could be abated, paid for by a modest increase borne by supermarkets currently making huge profits. Supporting pubs, cafes and restaurants needs government fiscal measures.

Finally, an MP pay rise is inappropriate, especially when so many are suffering. The decision is made by a separate body and hopefully they will reflect. If not then I’ll be increasing my standing orders and donations to charities with it.