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Licensed cafes across Scotland’s central belt are being told they can remain open as long as they don’t serve alcohol. This comes as First Minister Nicola Sturgeon imposes tougher coronavirus restrictions in a bid to suppress the pandemic. However, confusion over what classifies as a cafe has emerged, leading National Clinical Director Professor Jason Leitch to try to clarify the SNP’s measures on BBC Radio Scotland.
Drivetime host John Beattie asked the adviser: “What is a cafe, what’s a restaurant?
“We’ve had the lawyers on earlier and the restaurant owners and nobody knows. What’s the difference?
“Because you can go to a licensed cafe, according to the First Minister, and you can have food there as long as there’s no alcohol.
“But, in theory, in the central belt, can you go to a restaurant which is licensed? There’s no difference between the licensing legislation, it’s a licensed premises. Can you go there if they don’t sell booze?”
Professor Leitch replied: “So the National Clinical Director is one of the public health advisers, not an environmental health officer.
“So local authorities will have to make those judgements, and environmental health officers will make those judgements.
“Now some of it will be obvious, at either end of that spectrum, and some of it will be a little more difficult.
“These decisions are not binary, they’re not simple choices.”
He added: “This is just another example of a complex decision-making process to get us to the point where we need the virus suppressed.
“So the fundamental thing is the human behaviour. If you don’t have to do something, think hard before you do it.”
Mr Beattie shot back: “Did you just tell me that the decision making as to what is a restaurant and what is a cafe and a pub will be down to environmental health officers in local authorities?”
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Professor Leitch scrambled to clarify his answer, pointing to the Scottish Government’s desire to prevent household mixing.
He told the radio host: “Local authorities will have to make those judgements of course, and environmental health officers are one of the ways of making that judgement.
“What we’re trying to do as national advisers put in place mechanisms for people to stop mixing between households.
“Principally in their own homes, and now a little bit more in hospitality.
“We just want the virus suppressed and we think this is one of the risky areas.”
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