Advice for businesses opening during COVID-19

Physical distancing and other safety measures

As of 9 October 2020, retail premises, such as supermarkets, should operate in line with 2 metre physical distancing rules within the premises and re-introduce COVID mitigation measures such as one-way systems.

Premises operating with 1 metre physical distancing

To operate with 1 metre physical distancing, businesses must take steps to help ensure the safety of staff and customers.

Steps include

  • having all customers seated

  • reviewing premises layouts

  • face coverings for staff

  • measures to reduce noise to avoid the raising of voices

  • contactless payment facilities

  • improved ventilation

  • clear 1 metre signage.

There are measures that you should consider to ensure you are playing your part in stopping the spread of coronavirus.

  • ensure a safe distance between customers, and between customers and staff

  • take equivalent measures to protect your employees consistent with fair work principles

  • only let people enter in sufficiently small numbers, to ensure that physical distancing can take place

  • ensure queue control is consistent with physical distancing advice outside of shops and other essential premises that remain open.

Read about how to operate the 1 metre exemption in the tourism and hospitality COVID-19 guidance from the Scottish Government.

Physical distancing measures for staff

All businesses which continue to operate must take all reasonable measures to ensure physical distancing is maintained between any persons (except between members of the same household or in relation to carers) on the premises, this includes staff.

Read the Scottish Government business and physical social distancing guidance

Mandatory collection of customer/visitor contact details to support Test and Protect

This is no longer voluntary for hospitality businesses – guidance has been updated on specific actions and businesses should review their arrangements to ensure they are compliant. Customer detail collection guidance has been updated on specific actions, and businesses should review their arrangements to ensure they are compliant.

Noise control - background music in hospitality premises

Hospitality venues can play low level background sound. This includes music and other audio inside the premises.

Before re-introducing background noise you must follow the recommended steps in the appropriate Scottish Government guidance. The guidance is to prevent raised voices and people leaning in to be heard due to background sound. This is to make sure that physical distancing measures are maintained. The guidance also contains a risk assessment and advice on a background audio level setting exercise which you should take.

Other areas covered within the guidance and which premises should refer to include

  • staff training, customer information and signage

  • resolving disputes

  • measuring sound levels

  • live sport on TV

  • customers with hearing impairments

  • background music and your premises licence

  • outdoor seating areas.

Activities such as discos, silent discos, karaoke and others that need general singing or dancing are not permitted at the moment. Live music is not covered by this guidance. Refer to the guide for the events sector on safe re-opening during the coronavirus pandemic on the Scottish Government website.

Noise control - loud behaviour

Clear customer information is key to managing these situations. Premises should use communication resources throughout the premises to remind customers that singing and shouting is not permitted. Staff should be mindful of early signs of this developing and where this does occur should intervene quickly to give advice and remind customers of the required standards of behaviour.

If it persists then background sound and or TV broadcasts should be turned off. In the event of disorder call Police Scotland who will attend.

Queue management

There is an increased risk that physical distancing will not be observed in queues in a hospitality setting, particularly during evenings. Except for take-away services where queueing must be managed with physical distancing, there should be no queueing inside premises, such as at bars, and systems should be in place to ensure this does not happen.

Steps should be taken to avoid queues outside the premises as much as possible but where unavoidable for safety reasons, measures should be taken to ensure physical distancing. Exceptions would include small businesses such as cafes providing takeaway services or where numbers of customers turn up simultaneously and need to be held in line for a short period of time until they can be safely checked in.

Holding people in line generally to wait for others to leave and make space is not a valid reason. Businesses who already have strong measures in place to manage external queues with physical distancing should retain these for when they may be needed for safety reasons.