Covid Fife: Businesses urged to act now over pandemic law changes

Businesses across Fife have been urged to act now if they want temporary changes made to how they operate during the pandemic to become permanent.

By Craig Smith, Local Democracy Reporter
Tuesday, 29th March 2022, 5:02 pm
Local businesses are being urged to ensure they are aware of the changes and their implications.

Legislation introduced by the Scottish Government at the start of the pandemic allowed businesses to adapt their operations during lockdowns and other covid restrictions, giving owners greater flexibility to make physical changes to their premises, such as outdoor eating or drinking facilities or extended opening hours, without the need for planning permission.

However, that legislation comes to an end on September 30 this year, meaning any businesses that have adapted premises, amended trading hours, or changed services under the legislation will need to revert to their original form or apply for planning permission to keep the changes they have made.

Pam Ewen, Fife Council’s head of planning, explained: “Many businesses have seen the benefits of COVID-19 relaxations over the last 18 months, whether through the introduction of outdoor seating areas, changes to the use of their buildings, extended hours of operation, or the launch of new services.

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“Some will see these as a short-term reaction to COVID restrictions, whilst for many it will be part of their future plans to continue with some, or all of these changes.

“However, come September, local businesses will need to revert to their original form.

“To ensure businesses don’t fall foul of the change in legislation, we are urging them to apply for planning permission now and not wait until September.

“It takes about two months for an application for planning permission to be processed.”

Any business hoping to keep their current set-up can find out more about planning permission at www.fife.gov.uk/planning.