CORONAVIRUS continues to dominate the headlines and, like most of central Scotland, the Wee County is having to live under additional restrictions that seek to reduce the spread of the virus.

While these lockdowns have been difficult for each and every one of us, they have been particularly hard for our small- and medium-sized businesses.

The hospitality sector has been the worst hit. While many restaurants, pubs and cafés have been able to adapt skilfully to the new set of challenging circumstances they face, the reality is that fewer people coming through the door means a reduced income. And this second shutdown has hit many businesses just as they were getting back on their feet.

These additional restrictions would be easier for businesses to cope with if the necessary financial support was put in place, but the SNP have committed just £40million.

And there is no clarity on how or when this money will be paid out. Businesses need certainty on how they are going to balance the books and pay their workers' wages.

Steven Montgomery of the Scottish Hospitality Group recently pointed out that Liverpool City Council committed £40million to support the 3,000 firms in their region but the Scottish Government seem to think that the same amount is sufficient to support the 20,000 businesses in Scotland that are under restrictions. This quite simply isn't good enough.

And it's not as if the Scottish Government don't have funds that they could draw on to support our struggling businesses. Following announcements by the chancellor Rishi Sunak last week, the Scottish Government will receive an extra £700million in UK Government funding for just that purpose, but the SNP have failed to set out how this will be spent in Scotland.

We in the Scottish Conservatives have proposed the introduction of a Scottish Business Restrictions Grant that would automatically provide funding to affected businesses when any new restrictions are announced. This would ensure that businesses get support immediately without the need for them to wait for applications to be processed.

We have also suggested using the UK Government funding to set up a Hardship Fund for businesses in local lockdowns as well as establishing Job Security Councils for workers who lose their jobs. But the SNP have ignored these suggestions and, at the time of writing, have still failed to set out how this extra funding will be spent.

There is also an extra £270million from the previously established Growth Scheme and Digital Fund that the SNP government still haven't bothered to use. As businesses are really struggling and many are having to shut their doors for good, it simply isn't acceptable that the SNP haven't paid a penny of this £1billion out to Scottish firms.

Scotland needs a government that backs our local businesses and provides them the support that they need to cope at this difficult time.

The UK Government has played its part by stumping up the cash, now we need to see action from the SNP to get this money out to those small- and medium-sized businesses who desperately need it.