Advice for businesses opening during COVID-19

Licensed premises

Update 2 November 2020

From 2 November, Edinburgh is in Level 3 of the Scottish Government’s ‘Strategic Framework for Scotland’ to tackle the spread of coronavirus.

The new tiered coronavirus protections system consists of five levels. Each with different measures in place to slow the spread of the virus while allowing some businesses to operate.

Cafes, restaurants, pubs and bars

Starting from 2 November, cafes, restaurants, pubs and bars can open to customers for the service of food and non-alcoholic drinks. Operating hours for those premises will be 6am to 6pm, with last entry at 5pm. Customers cannot bring their own alcohol to be consumed on the premises.

Drinks-only public houses which do not have facilities on the premises to allow the preparation and service of a main midday or evening meal, or main course at either such meal must remain closed.

A main meal would be something more than a snack. It is a plated meal, usually eaten with cutlery. It could include a substantial filled sandwich or panini served with a side such as salad or chips, or a “soup and a sandwich” style meal. As well as other more substantial meals which may have more than one course – as per Scottish Government guidance

Nightclubs and softplay premises

Nightclubs and softplay premises must remain closed at Level 3. Find out about Scottish Government funding available for business closures.

Edinburgh's level in the new system is reviewed by the Scottish Government on a weekly basis. For guidance on COVID-19 for tourism and hospitality sectors visit the the Scottish Government website.

Home delivery or takeway for pubs, bars and restaurants

If your licence and operating plan allow off sales you can offer home deliveries of alcohol, subject to complying with all relevant legislation.

CE marked pint measures must be used for draught beer and cider (cash and carry stocks these), Cocktails do not need any specific container. Containers of alcohol must be securely closed to prevent short measure, and to prevent a breach in the byelaw regarding open containers.

Delivery drivers must have appropriate business use insurance.


Alcohol cannot be served or consumed on public areas. Meals (no alcohol) may be provided in the hotel restaurant to guests staying in the hotel as they are considered residents.

You can serve alcohol by room service.

Takeway only premises

If you are a takeaway, you do not have to close during this time.

Snooker and pool halls, indoor bowling alleys, casinos and bingo halls

Snooker and pool halls, indoor bowling alleys, casinos and bingo halls must close, in Edinburgh, from 10 October for two weeks.

Weddings or funerals

Specific events such as weddings or funerals, may continue, with alcohol, in line with current meeting rules for these events (20 person limit in regulated premises only).

You can find guidance for the restrictions for post-ceremonial gatherings (wedding or funeral) in the closure period on the Scottish Government website. You can also find guidance on weddings during COVID-19 on the Scottish Tourism Alliance website.

Additional measures that apply to Edinburgh

We are part of the Lothian Health Board area, and as such those measures which are specific to the central belt announced by the Scottish Government will apply to all our businesses.

Ensuring compliance with the new rules

Our Environmental Health Officers (EHOs) will be responsible for ensuring compliance with the new rules while they are in place. Our EHOs will also be able to advise and support your business to ensure you can operate safely and compliantly, when appropriate.

To speak to an EHO and get advice for your business, you can email us at

[email protected] 

Refusal to close

If necessary, both Council officers and Police Scotland have enforcement powers to require you to close. This could then be escalated to a prosecution report, and a subsequent Premises Licence review.

Guidance form the Scottish Government

You can find guidance for the tourism and hospitality sector during COVID-19 on the Scottish Government website.