RESTAURANTS are having low hygiene ratings changed to “awaiting inspection” as health officers cannot visit during the coronavirus crisis.

Food outlets such as Constantinople in Norfolk Square, Brighton, which was given a low score in their health inspection, are having their ratings changed as inspectors cannot come for a revisit during the lockdown.

Businesses in this position have will now be listed as “awaiting inspection”, but the restaurants must be able to prove they have made the necessary changes to council officials.

The manager of Constantinople said: “There were a number of misunderstandings and there were some structural changes which needed to be done – so it wasn’t exactly about hygiene.

“Although I chased this up in a week and pushed them to come and have an inspection, the officer could not do anything.

“It’s definitely frustrating.”

Some restaurants are still open for takeaways, however many including Constantinople have shut entirely.

This means it is no longer possible for hygiene inspectors to visit the property to see whether they have made the desired changes.

However, businesses can now have this changed if they can provide the council proof that the needed work has been completed.

Based on this proof, the council will change the low scores to “awaiting inspection”.

Brighton and Hove City Council said: “We are following the national Food Standards Agency’s guidance in relation to the Covid-19 crisis.

“This means we are not currently undertaking routine food hygiene inspections unless we believe there is an urgent need to protect public health or where enforcement action is being taken.

“We are, however, staying in contact with higher risk businesses.

“In instances where an establishment has submitted an application for a re-score and has given us appropriate documentation and supporting evidence that backs this up, the FSA advice is to update their rating to ‘awaiting inspection’.”

The main drive of the city council’s food safety team is public protection and public health.

Nick Wilmot, food safety team leader at the council and one of those responsible for giving the ratings, said: “Our main drive is public protection and public health and since we have been doing this, hygiene has improved.”

Talking about why making the ratings public was necessary, Mr Wilmot said: “This is another tool we use to improve standards within businesses. Before this it was between us and the business.

“Now it’s transparent. Why shouldn’t everyone know about that – if I was taking kids into restaurant why shouldn’t I know beforehand whether they have bad hygiene practices?”

Mr Wilmot added that if there was any serious risk to the public then the business would be closed down. The frequency of food safety inspections varies from every six months to three years. The council decides the frequency of inspection based on the risk posed by the food business. Businesses can receive ratings ranging from zero (which means urgent improvement is necessary) to five (very good).