COVID-19 Advice for Businesses

Information documents have been put together to help businesses plan for their reopening phase. If you would like to make further enquiries or advice about reopening your business, you can complete our COVID-19 Business request form.

You can use this form to seek advice from a range of different services, including Licensing, Planning and Building Standards, for example:

  • to create a new beer garden
  • to erect a temporary structure to create an outdoor space
  • to ensure public safety while queuing on the pavement
  • advice on social distancing or PPE

Risk assessment

You must complete a suitable and detailed risk assessment of COVID-19 for your business. This risk assessment should detail the business controls to protect both employees, the public and any visitors. A blank risk assessment template is included in section one. Customers and staff will need to be confident in your COVID-19 control measures.

Hospitality sector statutory guidance

Guidance for the hospitality sector, including on takeaways, is available on the Scottish Government website.

Retail sector statutory guidance

Guidance for those business in the retail sector is available on the Scottish Government website. This includes click and collect services.

Test and protect

It's very important for pubs, cafes, restaurants and other businesses where people come to stay, to obtain contact details from one member of the group sitting in or staying at that premises. This includes beer gardens and other outdoor seating. Guidance for collecting customer contact details is available on the Government website.

Check In Scotland is a way to collect the contact details of people who visit hospitality businesses, such as pub, bars, restaurants and cafes, that's designed to work with NHS Scotland's Test and Protect. Find out more on

Further information regarding test and protect:

Face coverings

Guidance regarding use of face coverings is available on the Government website. Justification for staff not wearing face coverings must be included in the businesses risk assessment. Staff would not be expected to wear face coverings in areas such as:

  • stock rooms
  • where staff are not facing customers
  • if there is 2m physical distancing or a partition such as a Perspex screen between staff and customers
  • if staff work outwith store opening hours

Mitigating measures required to reduce physical distancing from 2m to 1m in hospitality settings

Each of the following mitigating measures must be provided to reduce physical distancing from 2m to 1m in hospitality settings.

  • No standing at bar areas/all customers seated - standing areas around bars can become crowded spaces making even 1m physical distancing difficult and should be avoided. Physical distancing is easier to achieve at pre arranged seating areas
  • Review layouts - to ensure 1m spacing and back to back or side to side arrangements between seated groups
  • Face coverings for staff - while face coverings for customers is not practical in an eating and drinking environment they should, where necessary, be made available for staff to afford them and others added protection, such as in front of house roles as they are exposed to multiple customers for the duration of their shift and details of this should be included in the businesses risk assessment
  • Improved ventilation - adequate and good quality ventilation should be standard in indoor commercial spaces, businesses should consider current arrangements and whether additional measures are required to make improvements. HSE guidance is available on this
  • Measures to reduce noise to avoid the raising of voices - areas where people have to raise their voice above normal levels to speak and be heard can contribute to the spread of COVID-19. The level and volume of music and other background noise, such as live sports on TV or around games tables, is a key consideration and steps should be taken to ensure volume levels do not present a risk to staff and customers
  • 1m zone signage - it's important that clear signage is displayed at entry points and throughout the premises to inform customers that they are within a 1m physical distancing zone. A poster available to download which must be used by all premises seeking to operate within the 1m exemption. Businesses should make arrangements to prepare sufficient signage
  • Clear systems for safe ordering and payments
  • Clear systems for safe use of toilet facilities
  • Use of screens between seating areas
  • Clear messaging needed to provide contact details to support Test and Protect

These measures will not be relevant in every setting but it's for individual businesses to consider where they do relate to their specific business and reflect this in their risk assessments. These are in addition to existing measures required for operating at 2m, which still applies to all other areas covered by the sector guidance where 2m remains the default.

Further information is available in the Scottish Government FAQs for the hospitality sector.

Revised risk assessment

Businesses must, in line with the general sector guidance, adopt a risk based approach and revise existing risk assessments to incorporate additional mitigating measures. 

Working in other people's homes

Guidance regarding working safely in other people’s homes can be found on the Scottish Government website.

Section one

Section two

Section three

Section four

Section five

Section six

Section seven

Section eight

Section nine

Section ten

Contact us

You can contact our Food, Health and Safety team for more information and advice.