Challenge to government
Restaurant wins court ruling to operate as cafe
Eusebi’s Deli can stay open following a court ruling
A court ruling that a Glasgow restaurateur can operate as a cafe may have implications for government attempts to shut down some businesses.
Eusebi’s Deli is among a number of hospitality businesses facing enforcement action from the city council during “circuit breaker” restrictions affecting the Central Belt.
Final warnings have been issued to a number of businesses, ordering them to close.
However, Giovanna Eusebi secured an interim interdict from the Sheriff Court in Glasgow on Tuesday night which prevents the local authority from serving her with a prohibition notice that would force her to shut.
It is understood the temporary ruling centred on receipts from the past two weeks which Ms Eusebi said had shown that the venue has primarily served “cafe food” and coffees.
Under government orders, bars and restaurants are ordered to close until 2 November.
Cafes are defined as establishments which sell “non-alcoholic, drinks, snacks and light meals” as their primary business activity.
This could, though, include cafes with a liquor licence, which will be allowed to stay open if they stop selling alcohol.
The sheriff’s ruling comes as five of Scotland’s Hospitality Industry bodies are taking legal action against the Scottish government’s restrictions on the licensed trade.
The First Minister said that establishments “will know if they are a restaurant”, while decisions would be based on the type of service businesses would normally provide.
Eusebi’s operates on two levels with the ground floor serving breakfast and lunch dishes including pastas, as well as hot beverages and cakes and a restaurant in the basement area, which is currently closed.
Ms Eusebi, a food writer for The Herald, said: “We are delighted by the decision of the court which vindicates the position we have taken from the very beginning.
“Since re-opening in the summer, we have served thousands of customers in a safe and secure cafe and deli environment with every precaution in place.”
A spokeswoman for Glasgow City Council said the advice to businesses “remained unchanged”, while leader Susan Aitken said it would come as no surprise that businesses were interpreting the rules “in whichever way gives them a chance to keep trading”.
While other venues would be required to go through the same legal process in order to prevent enforcement action, the interdict could allow other businesses to follow suit.
Stephen J McGowan, a lawyer who acted for Ms Eusebi, said:“Acting on behalf of Eusebi Deli we secured an interim interdict on 19 October, preventing Glasgow City Council from issuing a closure order under the relevant Coronavirus regulations.
“The court agreed with our submissions that the premises met the legal definition of “café” under the regulations, meaning they can continue to trade.”
Susan Aitken, leader of Glasgow City Council, told The Herald: “I find it hard to criticise operators who are fighting for their businesses and the livelihoods of those they employ.
“Businesses are interpreting the rules in whichever way gives them a chance to keep trading – and that shouldn’t come as any surprise to those who set the rules, or those of us in local government that have been given the task of implementing them.
“Like hundreds of businesses across the city, I am anxious to see Glasgow’s hospitality sector open for business – and our economic recovery gather pace.
“However, that is only going to happen when we slow transmission of the virus.
“Until we achieve that, the other danger facing any community will remain the introduction of even tighter restrictions, put in place for longer.”
A spokeswoman for the Scottish Government said: “This is a matter for the court and the party interdicted. We have no further comment.”