District council prepares to enforce COVID-19 regulations on businesses offering food takeaways and deliveries in South Kesteven

South Kesteven District Council’s Environmental Health team is working with Trading Standards to enforce the new regulations governing food takeaways and deliveries that came into force on Saturday to protect public health in the wake of recent measures announced by the Prime Minister to stop the spread of Coronavirus.
Coun Kelham Cooke, Leader of SKDC. EMN-200325-164944001Coun Kelham Cooke, Leader of SKDC. EMN-200325-164944001
Coun Kelham Cooke, Leader of SKDC. EMN-200325-164944001

Officers are also offering guidance to local food takeaway and delivery services, some of which have evolved as restaurants, pubs and cafes seek new ways of working.

These have included businesses in villages to the south and west of Sleaford such as the Houblon Arms in Oasby and Crown and Anchor in Welby, delivering meals to isolated residents in the community. Others have felt compelled to close due to the circumstances such as Woodland Waters at Ancaster.

The council is clear that whilst it will support and guide food and takeaway services that are allowed to remain open under the latest Government guidelines it will act if those businesses do not adhere to the new regulations, which could result in prosecution and or fines.

South Kesteven District Council Leader, Coun Kelham Cooke, said: “We are absolutely committed to supporting our businesses as they adapt to this unprecedented public health crisis, but it is vital that we all work together in the best interests of protecting public health as well as supporting our local economy – it is the right and responsible thing to do.

“We are issuing guidance to our food and drink businesses to help them protect the health of their staff and of their customers as they change how they work. But we will crack down on businesses who do not operate within the new regulations.”

On Friday, the Government acted to stop bars, restaurants, cafes and workplace canteens from selling food or drink for consumption on the premises. Cafes or canteens in hospitals, care homes, and schools are exempt, along with prison and military canteens, and services providing food or drink to the homeless.

But as some bars, restaurants and cafes adapted to offer a takeaway or delivery service, this resulted in people congregating in groups either as they queued to get takeaway food or drink, or as they consumed their food or drink in outdoor seating areas ignoring social distancing guidelines.

Food delivery and takeaway services can remain open which means customers and delivery drivers can continue to enter the premises. But the businesses must ensure that:

* People do not consume food or drinks on site whilst waiting for takeaway food

* Outside seating is not used

* There is a distance of two metres between customers and shop assistants

* People enter the premises only in small groups, to ensure that spaces are not crowded.

* Any queues are managed to adhere to social distancing rules

* They do not sell alcohol unless their existing premises licence allows off premises sales.

Anyone concerned that a business covered by the regulations remains open or needs further advice, should contact SKDC’s environmental health team at [email protected]

Restaurants, cafes and pubs in South Kesteven must notify the district council’s planning team if they plan to, or are already, providing takeaway food.

They should identify any buildings or land that will be used to provide the service over the next 12 months. This applies to hot or cold food prepared for collection or delivery for consumption off the premises and should be notified by email to [email protected]

Coun Cooke also added his concerns about people continuing to fail to observe correct social distancing and limiting their numbers away from home - or face police fines.

He said: “The Prime Minister made a very clear statement with major implications for us all. In the interests of containing the Coronavirus pandemic, each and every one of us must adapt to a new way of working and living in the coming days, weeks and months.

“We have been asked to: stay at home; take just one form of exercise outside per day, and only with family members who live in the same household; restrict shopping to essential items of food and medical supplies; only travel to work if it is essential.

“I am making a personal plea to all residents to do exactly what the Prime Minister has asked, for the sake of all our health. Only by complying with these restrictions can we hope to limit the spread of Coronavirus to protect ourselves, our families and our communities, and buy our amazing NHS valuable time to prepare and respond.

“As we watch the numbers of diagnosed cases of Coronavirus increase in the UK and listen to what the scientific evidence is telling us, it is clear that our individual actions can and will make a real difference.

“These are immensely challenging times. Let’s join together and do our part to get through this unprecedented crisis.”

SKDC has launched a COVID-19 community information hub open 8am-7pm seven days a week, answering requests for help or info from people who are vulnerable or need assistance due to age or ill-health. Call 01476 406177 or 01476 406358 or email [email protected]