Council Leader criticises large businesses with eating areas offering meal deals

Midlothian Council Leader, Derek Milligan has criticised some businesses with large hospitality areas, normally operated and marketed as restaurants, for claiming to be cafés. He claims this is to get round the latest Covid-19 restrictions and that by doing so, they are “putting profits before public health”.

Some offering meal deals

He said that while these premises may be complying with Scottish Government guidance around measures such as face coverings and social distancing, a small number were continuing with special offers and meal deals aimed at maximising footfall.

Putting elderly and more vulnerable at risk

Cllr Milligan, who has written to First Minister Nicola Sturgeon asking Scottish Government to review or further clarify the hospitality guidance, said: “Many of these offers are targeted at older and more vulnerable people. While the last thing we want is for these groups to become socially isolated and not enjoy the chance for a catch up with a friend over a cup of tea and a snack, we don’t want them flocking in numbers to these large eateries putting themselves at risk.

Give councils power to close them

“I’m extremely disappointed some large businesses are putting profits before public health and I’d urge them to do the right thing and follow the guidance to the letter, by closing their large eating areas. Alternatively, I’d ask the Scottish Government to give local authorities the power to close them.

Some can seat hundreds

“These businesses should not be allowed to change their designation almost overnight from a restaurant to a café to allow them to continue to operate while other smaller businesses, with no alternative source of income, have to close. It’s vital we take a stand, especially as some are going out of their way to pull in as many people through the door as possible, despite the risks.  Some of these dining areas can seat hundreds of people.”

Customers coming from miles away

Cllr Milligan added: “The First Minister has made it clear cafes can remain open to allow local people to stay in touch. The primary aim of large multi-national businesses that keep their hospitality areas open is to attract customers often from many miles away. That is clearly not fulfilling the function intended.”

Praise for those complying

Cllr Milligan also praised the high rate of compliance amongst hospitality businesses who have had to close, or who have chosen to close, during the current enhanced restrictions.



19 Oct 2020