Duncan Bannatyne has vowed not to open another business in Scotland in the wake of Nicola Sturgeon's "absolutely ridiculous" decision to keep gyms closed until the middle of September.
The former Dragons' Den star, who owns 11 gyms north of the Border employing 600 people, told The Telegraph it was "unbelievable" she considered it safe to reopen pubs, bingo halls and bowling alleys but not health clubs.
He said Ms Sturgeon and her officials had not bothered to see for themselves the safety measures implemented, arguing that she had a "hidden agenda" and was only interested in independence.
The Scottish entrepreneur said he would "never again" open a business north of the Border, adding: "I don't know if many people would."
No scientist has said that pubs, restaurants, bowling alleys. bingo halls airports and planes are safer than gyms. NO scientist ever said that!!! https://t.co/aV2bQRrPqFâ€” Duncan Bannatyne (@DuncanBannatyne) July 30, 2020
Mr Bannatyne said his health clubs in Scotland have enough funding to stay solvent until the end of August, as they are cross-subsidised by his English gyms, but he could not provide any guarantees for September.
His outspoken attack was echoed by the PureGym chain, which said it was "truly extraordinary" that the First Minister had "not ascribed any real priority to working with us and our sector" during the pandemic.
It said her approach was in "direct contrast" to other countries such as Switzerland, where the firm's gyms are in their 12th week of opening, and Denmark, where they are in their seventh week.
Business leaders also attacked her decision to push back the date of offices reopening until Sept 14 "at the earliest", with the Scottish Chambers of Commerce (SCC) warning: "Further delays may result in permanent job losses and business closures."
Their interventions came after she announced her latest review of her lockdown exit plan for Scotland, which will see bingo halls, casinos and funfairs reopen on Aug 24.
Snooker and pool halls, bowling alleys and driving lessons can also resume on that date, but indoor gyms and swimming pools were only provided with an "indicative" date of Sept 14.
Similarly, indoor child soft play areas, indoor sports courts, theatres and live music venues other than nightclubs will be allowed to reopen until the middle of September, and be subject to social distancing.
Ms Sturgeon urged caution, telling MSPs that despite low transmission levels she was concerned by a rise in cases "around the world and across Europe, and even in England," before warning that Scotland could face a second wave.
She said she wanted gyms and swimming pools to reopen "as quickly as possible" but she had clinical advice that they "pose a particular risk and require a cautious approach."
Providing a provisional reopening date of Sept 14, she said she would review this in three weeks and if possible "accelerate" this to the end of August.
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But Mr Bannantyne poured scorn on the notion it was unsafe to have 50 people in a 30,000sq ft building with modern ventilation and wrist band technology to ensure members do not have to touch hard services such as doors.
He said: "It's unbelievable. There has to be another agenda. I don't believe she has advice saying stadiums and bowling alleys are safer than gyms."
Asked about her "hidden agenda", he said: "Independence is king. 'We don't care about anything as long as we get independence.'"
Dr Liz Cameron, the SCC's chief executive, said it was "imperative" that offices and gyms " have a clear and earlier date of return given the important role they play for our city and town economies."
Tracy Black, CBI Scotland director, said Ms Sturgeon's "no earlier than Sept 14" statement "creates confusion for many businesses" and called for a firm date.