The owners of a Kinross pub have been told they broke strict coronavirus rules by serving up free bowls of stovies and oatcakes.
The complimentary platefuls were put on the menu at the Muirs Inn so that regulars could drink at the bar rather than brace the cold outdoors.
Owners William and Lynn McCord thought the special offer would help support their business, at a time when they are struggling to make enough money to pay staff wages.
But the deal was shut down in less than 24 hours, after someone complained to Perth and Kinross Council.
Mrs McCord said: “We got a phone call saying that what we were doing wasn’t allowed and we had to stop.
“It seems a bit unfair. Maybe Covid knows if you haven’t paid for your food.”
Kinross is in Tier 2, meaning alcohol can only be served indoors if accompanied by a “main meal”.
The local authority said alcohol should complement the meal, not the other way round.
The McCords said they were simply trying to make the best of a bad situation.
“We just thought it would be a good idea to offer a free bowl of stovies with a couple of drinks to our tea-time regulars,” Mrs McCord said.
“We hadn’t been doing it for very long when we got the call saying that a complaint had been made.
“We serve food in the restaurant, and anyone can eat in there and have a drink with their meal but we wanted to have something for people who just want to spend a bit of time in the bar.
“We were really trying to get the right balance. It’s not like we were encouraging people to go daft or anything, it was just something that would let the folk come and have their pints at the bar, rather than making them sit outside.”
Mrs McCord said trade has been tough in recent months.
“It has been difficult, I’m not going to lie,” she said.
“We are barely making enough to pay the staff, but we are just trying to keep going as best we can.”
Local Liberal Democrat councillor Willie Robertson said he was sad to hear the business had been reported.
“All licensed premises and restaurants are having a really hard time with all the current restrictions and need our support to keep them in business,” he said.
“The Muirs Inn is a very popular hostelry in Kinross and has been serving the people of Kinross for generations. I hope that they continue for generations more.”
A Perth and Kinross Council spokeswoman said: “We understand the difficulty facing businesses who are having to continually adapt to a new way of working in responding to an ever evolving set of circumstances.
“The recent change in legislation means alcohol is an accompaniment to the meal, not the meal as an accompaniment to the service of alcohol.
“In other words, complimentary food being served is not permitted. The Muirs Inn are registered as a food business with Perth and Kinross Council and subject to routine inspection, using the current guidance.”
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