More resistance to shutdown
Edinburgh cafe is latest to defy closure order
Ronnie and Kyle Reid: One20 remains open agains the council action
An Edinburgh wine cafe has become the latest in Scotland to successfully challenge a closure order under the Covid restrictions.
The city council ordered One20 Wine Cafe to shut as it felt it contravened the guidelines on what constitutes a cafe.
But the owners, father and son Ronnie and Kyle Reid, contested the claim and the Court of Session agreed, allowing the cafe to remain open.
Last week a sheriff court ruled in favour of Glasgow restaurateur Giovanna Eusebi which faced enforcement action from the city council during “circuit breaker” restrictions affecting the Central Belt.
That ruling centred on receipts from the past two weeks which Ms Eusebi said had shown that the venue had primarily served “cafe food” and coffees.
The two cases could prompt others to challenge the government’s guidelines and coincide with legal action mounted by a group of five hospitality businesses.
Ronnie Reid of One20 in Dundas Street told the Edinburgh Evening News that the council’s reason for forcing his business to close was that some of its dishes were ‘too smart and too fancy’ for it to be considered a cafe. The council denied that the style of food was a factor in its action.
One20 was granted an interim suspension order by the Court of Session after an online hearing on Friday and remains open, though the council is understood to be taking further legal advice.
“The restrictions are guidance,” added Mr Reid, “and I was given legal advice that the council can’t force places to close based on guidance.”
The cafe said it has been selling alcohol as an off-licence from its food and wine shop on the same site, but not in the cafe, in line with regulations.
A council spokeswoman, said: “Legal proceedings are still ongoing with regard to this case and so it wouldn’t be appropriate to comment on it.
“We’d like to point out though that our existing advice to businesses about what does and doesn’t constitute a café remains the same, and does not concern the style of food served.”
She pointed out the council said a premise is not considered a cafe under the recent regulations if it serves alcohol only without food to customers, when normal hours of operation extend to 8pm and if it offers a range of menus such as an evening menu.
The hearing was held on the day that Nicola Sturgeon introduced a five-level strategy of shutdowns which drew further criticism from the hospitality sector.
Stephen Montgomery, spokesperson for the Scottish Hospitality Group, said: “The Scottish Government’s current approach is impacting on people’s lives and livelihoods with devastating consequences. They need to sit down and work with businesses before it is too late and save an industry that is the third biggest employer in the country.
More levels are just another example of an unnecessarily complex system that leaves both businesses and the public confused– Stephen Montgomery, Scottish Hospitality Group
“The new financial support package, while welcome, is the equivalent of being abandoned at sea with only a lifejacket.
“We cannot survive if the intention is to impose these restrictions indefinitely. Since March, pubs and restaurants have effectively been closed for 20 weeks – whether by force or by the nature of the restrictions – and have only been trading for 12 weeks. No other sector has faced this level of sacrifice.
“More levels are just another example of an unnecessarily complex system that leaves both businesses and the public confused. The hospitality industry is still left bearing the brunt with no scientific, statistical, or medical evidence for these restrictions.”
He added: “We are tired of hearing that the numbers ‘may’ or ‘might’ or ‘could’ be impacted by our ongoing economic ‘sacrifices’. It seems ludicrous that it is too early to see the effect on case numbers for hospitality yet current measures on household gatherings are determined as having an impact.
“The numbers reflect that household mixing is a major cause of increased infections. Between July and September our members have served over 1.8 million customers with only 17 confirmed cases, demonstrating that Scotland’ s bars and restaurants offer a far safer environment where people can be sure that all possible precautions have been taken to look after them properly.
“We have repeatedly called on the government to work with us on a solution – we now need confidence that ministers are making decisions and putting measures in place based on tangible evidence rather than absurd guesswork.”