THE owner of one of Glasgow’s longest-running restaurants has urged the Government to consider allowing businesses to re-open if they do not serve alcohol as it becomes increasingly likely that a current ban affecting the Central Belt will be extended.

Seumas MacInnes, who runs Cafe Gandolfi, also called for a re-think of city centre policy, saying that while restaurants in the west and south of the city had been busy post-lockdown, central businesses have not seen the same recovery and suggested a temporary lifting of parking charges could help.

The restaurateur said that as difficult as it had been to shut his 40-year-old business again he said it was incumbent on owners to adhere to restrictions, saying compliance was helping other countries tackle the virus.

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Glasgow City Council has said a number of restaurants have continued to trade illegally after being visited by environmental health teams and said it is now at the stage where it is preparing to enforce closures.

The council said final warnings had been issued to a number of businesses in Glasgow who did not qualify for an exemption for licensed cafes.

HeraldScotland:

Mr MacInnes said: “I had thought initially I could stay open because I operate really as a cafe during the day but the First Minister had said at the end of her speech, ‘You will know if you are a restaurant.’

“Although I disagree sometimes with what is happening you have to be compliant. When you look at other countries that have been successful, the people are quite compliant. 

“I think they are going to have to re-think city centre policy for all Scottish cities, I know London and Edinburgh is the same as Glasgow.

“The city centre is absolutely devastated, it’s depressing.

“I’m hoping they start looking at stopping parking charges. Coming in for a coffee becomes expensive, it’s no wonder people are going to Braehead.

“I live in the south side of Glasgow and local restaurants were busy and west end they are busy. It just means we get that hit again. 

“Hopefully when this lockdown stops, people will feel the need to be out and to support their local businesses.

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“I just hope that they (the Government) realise that restaurants are safe, if you have done all your work. A cafe in general is a small place, if you come into my restaurants, it’s airy.  

“I do think there is a possibility that we might open and then close again.

“I would hope that when they do whatever they are doing, that they give us some warning because of the amount of food that was thrown out. My staff went away with full bags because we didn’t have any time to arrange anything with charities to pick things up.”

The restaurateur said he would be willing to trade without serving alcohol even although it would impact heavily on his profit margins.

However, the First Minister has said doing so “would undermine the purpose of these restrictions”.

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Mr MacInnes said: “If it’s to do with alcohol, let us open without serving alcohol.  During the day we operate as cafes, we have breakfast. Gone are the days that people are entertaining their clients – we serve very little alcohol during the day.

 “In a restaurant people are not getting ‘tanked up’ like you do in a bar -– you might have the extra bottle of wine and go home merry but it’s not the same thing and you aren’t socially mixing.”

A spokesman for the Scottish Government said: “As the First Minister made clear, we are not allowing restaurants to decide to stop serving alcohol and become cafes and stay open – that would undermine the purpose of these restrictions. 

“If business owners are unsure how the restrictions impact their establishment they should contact local environmental health authorities.

“We fully appreciate how difficult these restrictions have been for the hospitality sector which is why we have committed £40 million to our new Covid-19 Restrictions Fund to 
help affected businesses and protect jobs.”