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What are the new rules around food and coffee takeaways and what do they mean for local businesses?

Businesses offering food and drink takeaways will have to operate under new regulations from Saturday.

The first minister Nicola Sturgeon announced the new rules in an effort to reduce the spread of coronavirus which is threatening to overwhelm the NHS.

What are the new rules for food and drink takeaways?

From Saturday (January 16), customers will no longer be permitted to collect food takeaways or coffee indoors. Instead they should pick up food and drinks either via a hatch or doorway. Food deliveries can continue as before.

The first minister also announced that, from Saturday, it will be against the law to drink alcohol outdoors in public in all Level 4 areas so buying a takeaway pint and drinking it outdoors will not be permitted.

What does it mean for local businesses?

Heather Sharp, owner of Coffee & Co on Reform Street in Dundee, was taken aback by the news but said she would try to do everything possible to stay open.

She said: “Walking for a cup of coffee was getting people out and about. It makes them feel good. They were coming from the likes of Broughty Ferry to here and this was their treat, getting a nice coffee and walking back. People just want a bit of normality.

“We have a mobile card machine so this will just mean me running back and forward to the door. We’re closed at the moment on a Saturday anyway, so we’ll have to look at the logistics and we’ll get a plan for Monday. By hook or by crook we’ll make sure customers can get their coffee at the door.”

Barry Thomson outside his Pacamara cafe in Dundee.

Barry Thomson, owner of Pacamara cafe on the city’s Perth Road, said changes would have to be made in light of the new regulations, but he believes his business can remain open.

He said: “It will make a difference to the way we are operating. Obviously we’ve had to be really adaptable right throughout, as every business has had to be.

“First and foremost it was a relief. Had the government said that we had to close and they didn’t feel it was safe to operate, we would’ve 100% accepted that and supported it. So there’s a little bit of relief that they feel it is still safe for customers and for staff to continue trading.

“While [the first minister] was still making the announcement, we were already thinking about how we will adapt so it’s still safe for our staff and safe for our customers, but also to continue giving our customers a good experience.

“What we’re looking at, in the very early stages, I was on the phone to the builder about installing a hatch. So we will have that and be moving our food counters to the front of the cafe so we can serve people easily.”

But other cafes that have been operating takeaway and collection services may be forced to close when the new rules come into force. Jonathan Horne, owner of Henry’s Coffee House, which had only re-opened one of its three branches in Dundee, said it would close until restrictions ease.

He said: “We’re trading at the moment with one location but we will be closing.

“I know the first minister said the restrictions will come into place on Saturday, but she didn’t mention a time. So we don’t know yet whether our last day will be Friday or Saturday, it will depend on the time that’s given. We probably will stay closed until we come back out of this and can go back into tier 3.”

Julie Lewis, managing director of The Adamson, with one of the restaurant’s home delivery boxes.

Julie Lewis, who runs The Adamson restaurant in St Andrews, which has been operating an ‘Adamson at Home’ meal kit delivery service, says she is relieved they can continue operating.

She said: “I’m delighted (the first minister) hasn’t stopped all takeaways because that would have been a lot of hard work that we’ve put into Adamson at Home taken away. As long as it’s clear for everybody what the rules are, then safety and public health is paramount and if we can continue to still work safely in our business, and we’ve cut the number of people working to the extreme minimum to create the orders, then I think it’s beneficial for us to go ahead at the moment. At any point there is any risk to public safety or to our team then we would cease trading.

“I thought (Nicola Sturgeon) might have gone a bit further so she’s not closed us down, we are able to continue our Adamson at Home service safely and we’ll just adapt to the measures for public health.”

St Andrews-based chef and restaurateur Dean Banks immediately took to social media to reassure customers that takeaway collections from his Haarbour restaurant in the town will continue but with pre-orders only, and collections via a hatch window.

Fife hotel boss, Nicholas Russell, who recently revealed the success of his click and collect service from the front entrance of Balbirnie House, also pledged that it would continue, adding it would now “become termed as ‘pre-order’, and onwards we go!”.

Alasdair Smith, CEO of Scottish Bakers, took to Twitter to say he was seeking clarity on what is defined as a takeaway, fearing many members would have to close under the new regulations.

He added: “Most retail members provide food to takeaway as part of their offer but if they cannot sell hot pies with their bread, rolls and sweet treats I fear many will be forced to close.”


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