Food outlets warned that outside seating guidelines have not changed

Thu, 25/06/2020 - 12:50 -- Editor

Derry City and Strabane District Council is reminding business operators across the Council area that the Coronavirus Government restrictions continue to remain in place prohibiting the consumption of food and drink in the areas adjacent to the premises where it was purchased and that seating areas are not permitted.

The Council spokesperson said it acknowledges that these are very difficult and challenging times for many businesses and it can be difficult for many to keep up to date with ongoing changes in the legislation concerning the restrictions imposed by the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) Regulations (NI) 2020. It is imperative however, that food business operators who continue to provide a takeaway service are reminded that seating is not permitted adjacent to their premises for the consumption of food or drink by customers, despite recent media reports to the contrary.

The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) Regulations (NI) 2020 currently prohibits the consumption of food on such premises and it also prohibits the use of seating for customers outside of their premises. These requirements will remain in place until the NI Executive review the legislation, which is expected could take place before the 3rd of July to allow for the reopening of businesses within the hospitality sector.

In the interim, businesses who are currently trading as a take away business are reminded that they must ensure that any seating, is either removed or otherwise taken out of use, so that it is not available for customers.

The spokesperson added that where officers have been made aware of food businesses providing seating for customers outside their premises, contact has been made with the owner advising them of their requirements under the legislation.

“While we appreciate the difficulties that businesses are facing at this time, we would encourage continued compliance with the legislation, which was brought in to protect the health of our community during the pandemic,” the spokesperson said.

The Council spokesperson said it was important to differentiate this legislation and the recent correspondence from the Department of Infrastructure to Councils regarding planning restrictions for pavement café licences.

“Council is currently reviewing its policy with a view to putting into place arrangements to support businesses serving food or drinks (including cafes, restaurants and pubs) when they are permitted to reopen, while still ensuring safety and accessibility for members of the public.

“Council will be communicating with businesses directly making them aware of how to obtain authorisation to place furniture (tables, chairs, etc.) on the street. The licences will only be applicable once the current Coronavirus restrictions are revised or lifted by the Government.”