Oil giant bp has admitted it wrongly shut hundreds of its petrol station cafes because it thought they were covered by new early-closing restrictions to limit the spread of Covid-19, The Scotsman has learned.
The misinterpretation of the regulations sparked upset from workers who had come to depend on a caffeine top-up to help keep them alert in the early hours.
Bp said it had closed all 312 of its Wild Bean Cafes, including 33 in Scotland from 10pm last Thursday until 5am the following day.
One professional driver was puzzled to find the Wild Bean Cafe closed at bp’s Perth services near the Inveralmond roundabout at 3am.
He said: “I was astonished to find that the sale of coffees/teas etc were banned after 10pm.
"They had an official sign up stating no takeaway drinks due to the 10pm curfew.
"Professional drivers and other motorists rely on refreshment stops during the night.
"I’m a key worker. For me it was all about road safety.
"A break and a drink aids concentration.
“I enjoy stopping for a coffee at Perth as I find this keeps me alert."
Bp said its retail business had been unsure whether government guidance on 10pm closing for drinks applied to its Wild Bean Cafes.
It said that to protect itself “from any possible challenge”, the cafes had stopped serving drinks between 10pm and 5am.
A source said: "I think it was just an unfortunate coincidence the driver that got in touch with you visited during that time where the team was awaiting further guidance."
A bp spokesperson said: “At all times, the health and safety of our staff and customers is bp’s number one priority.
"Following guidance excluding petrol stations and convenience stores from closing between 10pm and 5am, bp’s company-owned Wild Bean Cafes will remain open 24/7.
"We will continue to monitor government guidance as it is updated.”
A Scottish Government spokesperson confirmed: "The 10pm curfew is for hospitality businesses – takeaway services, including for hot drinks, can continue to operate after this time.
"There is no restriction on the sale of takeaway hot drinks at service stations."