Lib Dems bid to pave the way for safe street cafe culture

Scottish Liberal Democrats have proposed an amendment to the latest coronavirus emergency legislation to help pave the way for more cafes, restaurants and bars to use closed roads to enable social distancing between customers, once they are permitted to re-open. 

The amendment confirms that it shall not be an offence to place tables and chairs in the road outside a premises, provided it is done with the local authority's consent and doesn't cause an obstruction to disabled people. 

Scottish Liberal Democrats will also ask the Scottish Government to publish advice to alert businesses to these possibilities and help local authorities prepare their own plans for the reopening of these businesses when the time comes. 

Edinburgh Western MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton commented: 

"Once it is safe and they are permitted to reopen, it seems inevitable that cafes, restaurants and bars will need to operate at a much reduced capacity to enable social distancing.

"Embracing a new street cafe culture with more covers outside could for many make the difference between their business being viable or not. 

"Temporarily allowing these businesses to use nearby streets and other open-air spaces would help them lift the shutters when the time is right, protecting jobs and keeping people safe.

"This proposal builds on the progress that Lib Dems have already helped secure towards widening pavements and closing selected roads to traffic except for local residents and emergency vehicles - something councils across the country are already drawing up plans for.

"There needs to be local discretion so the plans are suitable for each area and local residents too. But I want this Bill to give businesses and councils the confidence to work together and plan for the creation of a new street cafe culture."

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