Licensed cafes in central belt given reprieve as pubs and restaurants close
Pubs and restaurants in Scotland’s central belt will close at 6pm on Friday for 16 days – but licensed cafes have been given a reprieve.
New guidance allows cafes to operate from 6am to 6pm providing they don’t serve any alcohol.
The change in guidance has caused widespread confusion about which business are allowed to remain open and which must close for the 16-day period as part of the latest coronavirus restrictions.
Initially, Nicola Sturgeon said that in the five health board areas where COVID-19 rates were highest – Lothian, Lanarkshire, Forth Valley, Ayrshire and Arran and Greater Glasgow and Clyde – all licensed premises with the exception of hotels for residents “will be required to close indoors and outdoors”.
The exemption for cafes puts into question whether other licensed premises should be allowed to stay open and only serve food and soft drinks too.
Jackie Baillie, deputy leader of the Scottish Labour Party, who raised the café issue with Sturgeon, said: “This clarification from the First Minister will come as a relief to many business owners and workers across Scotland and, particularly, in those areas with additional restrictions.
“This comes less than 24 hours after cafes with licences were told they would need to close completely. So, whilst I welcome this about turn, it does seem obvious that the First Minister did not take businesses and workers into account when drawing up these latest restrictions.
“We cannot have businesses, the workers they employ, and the public suffering due to the Scottish Government’s lack of foresight.”
Scottish Conservative MSP Donald Cameron has also called for more urgent support for businesses.
He said: “The SNP’s guidance has confused university students, mum and baby groups, and now restaurants and cafes. Once again, it’s clear as mud.
“There is confusion across the country about which cafes and restaurants can remain open.
“The hospitality industry is already facing the chaos of having to close on a moment’s notice. This confusion must be cleared up now.
“We also need to see the SNP urgently outline what financial support is available to keep businesses afloat and save jobs.”