Environmental Health Officers enforce new coronavirus regulations

On 9 October the Scottish Government published legislation to introduce temporary restrictions to help reduce the spread of the virus. The Regulations partially came into force at 6pm on Friday, 9 October and fully came into force on Saturday, 10 October.

The Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Restrictions and Requirements) (Additional Temporary Measures) (Scotland) Regulations 2020 imposed a variety of restrictions (detailed below) for Nationwide and also additional ones for the central belt. 

The Scottish Government has designated Environmental Health Officers to define and enforce the legislation by providing guidance to businesses and monitoring compliance with the new restrictions. 

There has been some perceived frustration about lack of clarity over the exemptions of cafes - which are being allowed to stay open even in the central belt during the day as long as they don’t serve alcohol. The Regulations define a café as “An establishment whose primary business activity, in the ordinary course of its business, is the sale of non-alcoholic drinks, snacks or light meals.”

The Statement given by the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon on 9 October stated that “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.” 

In addition, during an interview with BBC Scotland the radio host asked Professor Jason Leitch, the Scottish Government’s National Clinical Director what the difference was between a café and a restaurant and to which he responsed "Local authorities will have to make those judgements of course, and environmental health officers are one of the ways of making that judgement.”

Therefore, to deal with enquiries Local Authorities in the central belt have set up dedicated email accounts for premises seeking clarification about whether they can continue to operate as a licensed café and also have been involved with enforcing compliance requiring restaurants to close. 

 

The new restrictions 

Nationwide (excepting central belt areas):

  • Hospitality (food and drink): all premises may only open indoors between 6am and 6pm, with no sales of alcohol
  • Hospitality (food and drink): premises may open outdoors until 10pm, with sales of alcohol (where licensed)
  • Takeaways (including from pubs and restaurants) can continue
  • Evening meals may be served in accommodation for residents only but no alcohol can be served
  • Current meeting rules, maximum of six people from two households, continue to apply
  • Specific life events, such as weddings and funerals, may continue with alcohol being served, with current meeting rules for these events (20 person limit in regulated premises only)

Central belt area focusing on five health board areas (Ayrshire & Arran; Forth Valley; Greater Glasgow & Clyde; Lanarkshire; Lothian):

  • Licensed restaurant premises will be required to close, with the exception of takeaway services
  • Cafés (unlicensed and licensed premises) will be able to open between 6am and 6pm provide a food and non-alcohol beverage service
  • Takeaways (including from pubs and restaurants) can continue
  • Evening meals may be served in accommodation for residents only but no alcohol can be served
  • Specific life events, such as weddings and funerals, may continue with alcohol, with current meeting rules for these events (20 person limit in regulated premises only)
  • No group exercise classes for indoor gyms and sports courts, pools with an exemption for under 18s
  • No adult (18+) contact sports or training, except professional sports, indoor or outdoor
  • No outdoor live events
  • Snooker/pool halls, indoor bowling, casinos and bingo halls are to close
  • Public transport use should be minimised as much as possible, such as for education and work, where it cannot be done from home
  • Current meeting rules, maximum of six people from two households, continue to apply

REHIS is a registered charity in Scotland, SC009406

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