Ruth Maguire MSP has welcomed flexibility offered by the Scottish Government to allow cafes, restaurants and bars to resume service in an outdoor setting.

Adjustments are being made as businesses in outdoor hospitality in Scotland are able to resume trading from today in line with the Scottish Government’s route map out of lockdown.

In order to comply with physical distancing guidelines, regulations on planning are being temporarily relaxed in order to allow businesses to use outdoor spaces, helping the industry recover safely.

Areas such as public footpaths may be used for seating, and could also include structures such as open-sided gazebos.

New measures to ensure the health and safety of customers and staff will also be in place including the collection of customer’s contact details to allow contact tracing if necessary.

Anyone planning on sitting-in during a trip to a beer garden or outdoor café will be asked to provide their name and contact telephone number to the business as well as logging the date and time of their visit.

The SNP MSP said: “The relaxing of planning controls on a temporary basis are a sensible measure to allow businesses to reopen safely. These measures will provide a safe and pleasant environment for customers.

“Allowing a degree of flexibility for the hospitality industry in this sense will help these businesses to function and restore a further degree of normality in our local communities.”

Planning Minister, Kevin Stewart said: 

“Scotland’s hospitality industry is vital to our economy which is why we took immediate steps to address the financial impact of COVID-19, including a £320 million support package specifically aimed at the tourism and hospitality sector.

“Local authorities are responsible for planning and we are already encouraging them to facilitate the use of open outdoor spaces which pubs and restaurants can use.  We have also issued guidance to local licensing boards about how to sensitively and pragmatically deal with requests to use outdoor space for the sale of alcohol.”

This updated guidance builds on previous public information that was included in a letter from the Chief Planner and Minister for Planning on May 29. – https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19—planning-procedures—chief-planner-letter-may-2020/ 

Any uses of land and temporary structures being allowed through the planning system will still need to comply with continued physical distancing restrictions. Businesses will also need to comply with any other non-planning requirements, such as licensing.