Lanarkshire’s move to Tier 4 of Covid restrictions could see businesses close in a matter of weeks.

The Lanarkshire Business Group fear a number of “business casualties” and say local firms have used up all their money to stay afloat.

Alan Kirkwood, vice-chairman of the non-profit networking body, told the Advertiser: “There’s going to be casualties in terms of business and, unfortunately, with life as we deal with the pandemic.

“Tier 4 will increase the risk of business casualties. A number of businesses I’ve spoken to, their reserves have been depleted.

“We’re not talking about large corporate businesses, it’s your bread and butter local shops, family-operated, and they’ve spent their money.

“They’re trying to get to this point, keeping their staff on – thinking they don’t know if they can afford this and might have to close.

“I think you’ll see businesses close quite quickly. Within the two-week period you’ll see them go. There’s no cash coming in, the tills aren’t ringing, places can’t sell anything.

“Places I’ve spoke to only have enough to go two weeks. It’s that kind of cycle we’re looking at.”

Speaking to the BBC, he said: “We need to be quite clear what it is we are going to do for our towns and cities, otherwise we will end up with ghost towns.”

Level four is the highest tier in the Scottish Government’s new lockdown framework.

It is reserved for areas with the worst rate of Covid infections and will be used as a last resort to bring case numbers back down to manageable levels.

What will close under level four?

According to details published last week, all non-essential shops will be told to close as well as hair and beauty businesses. Residents will be told to avoid public transport unless in exceptional circumstances. Entertainment venues will also close.

Can I still socialise?

Outdoor meetings are still permitted under level four, in groups of up to six people from two different households.

Will schools remain open?

Yes. But they will be subject to enhanced protection measures.

Can I travel?

Non-essential travel in and out of the level four area is not allowed and residents could be required to stay at home.

Malcolm Thomas-Harley, manager of Hamilton Business Improvement District commented: “There needs to be a balance between people’s health and business.

“As a group and as a town centre we need to do everything we can to pull through this period. A lot of businesses are online so we want to make sure they can still operate even through a potential lockdown.

“Businesses in Hamilton are doing absolutely everything to be there for the people of the town.

“Even if things close again, we want to encourage people to shop local online and support that way.”