Businesses offering food and drink takeaways will have to operate under new regulations from Saturday.
The first minister Nicola Sturgeon announced the new rules in an effort to reduce the spread of coronavirus which is threatening to overwhelm the NHS.
What are the new rules for food and drink takeaways?
From Saturday [16 January], customers will no longer be permitted to collect food takeaways or coffee indoors. Instead they should pick up food and drinks either via a hatch or doorway. Food deliveries can continue as before.
The first minister also announced that, from Saturday, it will be against the law to drink alcohol outdoors in public in all Level 4 areas so buying a takeaway pint and drinking it outdoors will not be permitted.
What does it mean for local businesses?
Louise Smart, owner of Aberdeen’s Orka Artisan Cafe and committee member of Aberdeen Hospitality Together, is relieved her business will be able to continue to operate, but believes many other cafes in the local area will have to rethink their offering.
She said: “We are very fortunate as we get to continue. We’ve never closed throughout the pandemic and actually run a buzzer system which is similar to many businesses in the States. If you’re picking up a coffee it takes less than 30 seconds so you come up, order and then walk away with your coffee. For things like paninis, we’ve asked customers to go for a walk with a buzzer, or if they are driving to us to sit in their car with their buzzer. We have a large space at the front of the cafe and a tent for people to wait under if it is raining but we’re really trying hard to minimise the amount of people in the same space. We even get to use the outdoor space in front of the neighbouring business.
“I’m so glad we can operate from the door. We were really concerned for our own safety as when people come inside, they touch everything and although we were sanitising and cleaning everything, having to operate from the door with the menu on window is much better as we can be two metres away from customers when they pick up their orders. We are lucky we have the space out the front.”
And while it is good news for some, Louise isn’t sure if others will be able to continue to operate at all, with some potentially having to close.
She added: “We’ve been open for one year and we’ve been open during the time of the pandemic longer than before it. I think there’s going to be a lot of businesses affected by this. Many don’t have the same space as us and unless they do click and collect at varied timeslots, I’m not sure how they will manage.
“On Holburn Street where there’s lots of cafes there’s not a lot of space out the front and I know a lot of the extra pavement space outside Rosemount was starting to go, so I’m not sure how many will be able to operate from their doors. At the beach many of them are already operating out of hatches or their doors. There’s a lot of cafes which have been operating only three days a week and this might be enough for them to shut.
“I think a lot of places will go to delivery. I know Foodstory already do this, as do we, so I can imagine a lot of people will do the same. If a lot of takeaways have to close them people who work on the frontline might not be able to get access to food as much. A lot of the catering facilities have been closed and a lot of people have been reliant on takeaways.”
Click and Collect a must
In Stonehaven, Aberdeenshire, Calum Richardson, owner of The Bay Fish and Chips says there won’t be huge changes for his business, but believes he would probably have had to close if click and collect services were affected.
He said: “We haven’t had customers in our shop since March. We only do click and collect and delivery, no one can come and walk up – we did this to protect our staff and customers. Our time slots and orders are all regulated to ensure there’s minimal people around.
“Currently we operate seven days a week but we’re evaluating it every week as things are constantly changing and customers habits change as a result. We’re operating 4-8pm as people are only really meant to be going out for exercise just now, but we may end up reducing the days we’re open.
“We were swithering whether we’d close the shop totally if click and collect was taken away. We’ve been sitting talking strategy with the managers and Dash Cabs who help with our delivery and thankfully not much has changed for us. But to be honest [the first minister] may be better closing everywhere in the end as it is hard to regulate who is actually placing orders via click and collect.”
Nearly a triple hit
In Inverness David McLeod, who owns food stall Ness Side Catering, McLeod’s Fish and Chips and Hampers and Champers, a hamper delivery service, was concerned his three businesses may have seen drastic changes had takeaways have had to close, but is relieved he will just have to make minor tweaks to keep them fully operational.
He said: “There’s not a huge amount of difference for us thankfully. At the chip shop we operated with a table at the front door when we were first allowed to reopen after the first lockdown last year so we’ll be going back to that sort of working.
“It was only in the last two or three months that I put up plastic screens and allowed customers back in the shop on a one in, one out system. That will have to go but we’ll just revert to the table at the door process. Everyone has their own timeslots to pick up too. At the weekends we are obviously much busier but we monitor the customers and they are also great at keeping socially distanced. We have been able to cut down the traffic coming to the front door with these timeslots which really helps.
“At the food stall we have a big area outside so customers can socially distance easily. The team there is already doing all the right things so we’re lucky we don’t have to change anything there. The hampers business is delivery only so there’s no change with that either.”
“I really feel for the businesses whose front door is far away from the kitchen. The takeaway side of businesses is hugely important as, for example, I have a customer who lives abroad and she orders an online delivery for her father every week and it’s the only way she knows he is getting what he needs and is having a decent meal.
“We deliver to a retirement flat as they can’t get out, too, and it is an important part of keeping people going so I am glad they haven’t limited it too much.
Thanks everyone for an incredibly busy night last night!!We went live with our new online ordering system which was…
‘Telephone orders preferred’
Kerri Hess, co-owner of Muir Hub Cafe & Kitchen which opened in Muir of Ord in the Highlands around eight weeks ago, is also relieved she will only have to make small changes to her business.
Closing the foyer area where customers have been placing orders, Kerri says she will be encouraging individuals to order by phone so that there are even less people entering her venue.
She said: “It is a bit of a relief to be honest. We have a foyer out the front and have been able to open it up and operate as a takeaway. With the new restrictions that will all have to be closed off and how we’ll deal with that is putting a message on Facebook saying ‘telephone orders preferred’, so that we don’t have anyone standing out the front or anything like that.
“We have never had anyone standing in the foyer, they have just come in, placed their order and then asked to wait outside. We’re constantly very vigilant on how many people we have out the front outside and always ensure everyone is socially distancing. We’re a small local village and it is very easy to speak to people. I think it might be harder in the bigger cities.”