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Restaurants cannot ‘turn into’ a café to avoid closure, says Nicola Sturgeon

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Restaurants cannot ‘turn into’ a café to avoid closure, says Nicola Sturgeon

Restaurants and other licensed premises will not be able to open in the Central Belt even if they only serve food and non-alcoholic drinks, the First Minister has confirmed.

New regulations published today provide a reprieve for licensed cafes to continue to operate between 6am and 6pm, as long as no alcohol is served.

It includes a definition of a café to prevent other licensed premises from operating.

Nicola Sturgeon said the new restrictions were designed to limit the number of places people could meet to stop the spread of COVID-19, but still allowed cafes to open in a bid to tackle loneliness and isolation. Allowing other venues to operate as cafes would “undermine” this, she said.

She said: “The regulations being published today – I think they have just been published before the briefing started – have a definition of cafe which applies regardless of whether or not they have a licence.

“That definition is ‘an establishment whose primary business activity in the ordinary course of its business is the sale of non-alcoholic drinks, snacks or light meals.’

“That's a definition based on what a cafe already does. It doesn’t allow a restaurant to now turn itself into a cafe.

“I think business owners will know whether their establishment fits that definition or not. But any doubts, or questions that any have, should be discussed with local environmental health authorities.”

Restaurants and pubs in the five health board areas where COVID-19 rates were highest – Lothian, Lanarkshire, Forth Valley, Ayrshire and Arran and Greater Glasgow and Clyde – will be required to close from 6pm tonight until 25 October.

Nicola Sturgeon also confirmed businesses impacted by the closures will be eligible for cash grants and support for employment as part of £40m funding package.

A discretionary fund for local authorities to give to other businesses in need of support, but not eligible for the cash grant, will also be established.

Details of the package were to be published by the Scottish Government on Friday morning. However, publication was delayed after it was confirmed Chancellor Rishi Sunak would set out further measures to support businesses forced to close.

The First Minister said: “We are now expecting an announcement from the Chancellor later today on furlough, which might have an impact on our proposals.

“I hope they will have a positive impact on our proposals. We will publish the details after we have clarity on that.

“I would call on the UK Government to ensure whatever it announces today on furlough applies in Scotland from tonight.”

The grants are likely to resemble those provided to businesses in Aberdeen following its local lockdown in August. It would see £1,000 or £1,500 granted, depending on their ratable value.

Read the most recent article written by Louise Wilson - New five-tier coronavirus strategy unveiled by Scottish Government

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