A Fife café owner, ordered by Trading Standards to remove gazebos allowing customers socially distanced chat, has vowed to keep helping those experiencing loneliness and isolation.
Mike Lowe, owner of Cupcake Coffee Box in Kirkcaldy town centre, had erected three gazebo structures outside his café, which allowed customers to enjoy a socially distanced coffee during the lockdown.
He has since been ordered to take down the structures after complaints from members of the public.
They were erected directly outside the cafe on High Street in the Lang Toun.
“The gazebos were simply providing protection from the weather and allowing some of my most vulnerable customers with a 20-minute opportunity to sit and have minimum interaction,” Mike explained.
“They were individual booths with only two seats and provided social distancing so the ruling is very frustrating as we are only trying to offer people a little respite during these difficult times.
“The officers were very sympathetic but said that the ruling went against current guidelines and therefore could not be allowed.
“I’m surprised and disappointed but there’s no use in arguing, they are only following rules but it does seem a bit excessive.”
Mike said the officers informed him the decision had followed complaints from four individuals.
“One elderly customer who admitted to be really struggling at the moment said to me last week that being able to sit outside the café was salvation and the only form of interaction with other people during the lockdown.
“He commented that living in isolation was worse than being alive and to hear that really brought it home how badly some elderly and vulnerable people are suffering right now. That’s heartbreaking to hear.”
Mike said he accepted the ruling but vowed to continue to support those in need by delivering a coffee to any of his customers who need some social interaction.
“I’ll deliver to anyone and offer a friendly face as we continue through this pandemic and have even given on 82-year-old pensioner a job for one hour per day so he doesn’t feel lonely.
“To those customers that have been relying on this minimal contact to get through the day, I apologise but please people can contact me and I will happily bring them a drink along and have a chat through their window.
“I hope this will end soon and then we can get back together for that important contact and socialising.”