Advice for businesses opening during COVID-19

Licensed premises

Cafes, restaurants, pubs and bars

As with earlier guidance updates, it is necessary for businesses operating in the tourism and hospitality sector to review their risk assessment in line with the latest requirements and advice.  In particular, revised risk assessments will need to ensure that settings that serve alcohol for consumption on the premises, or where alcohol is consumed on the premises:

  • Only offer table/at seat service. This means there should be no standing at bar areas/vertical drinking. Full table service should be carried out where reasonably practicable, however where this is not practical drinks may be served at bar areas where there is a clear queuing system with appropriate distancing and the food/drink is consumed at a table/when seated.  This may include bar seating if managed with safe distancing, appropriate hygiene controls and not obstructing any order points leading to crowding. Buffet service may also be offered where there is appropriate distanced queue management. Premises should revisit the adaptations deployed in earlier phases where table/at seat service was a requirement and use these as necessary. Games/gaming tables/gaming machines may still be used/take place in premises with appropriate distancing, face coverings and hygiene controls, but all food and drink must be consumed while seated.
  • Observe 1 metre physical distancing between groups. The strong advice is that people should not meet in groups of more than three households.  In most instances this will mean ensuring 1 metre distancing between tables. With the exception of wedding receptions, dancing will not be possible due to the likelihood of households mixing in large numbers.

At seat service and 1 metre physical distancing is required by regulations.

The requirement to collect customer contact details currently remains in place in order to assist with the Test and Protect system.

Face coverings must be worn at all times indoors. The regulations provide a number of exemptions for example children under 12 or individuals with health conditions. In a hospitality setting, customers may remove their mask for the purposes of eating or drinking.  Customers need not be seated to eat or drink. The regulations also provide an exemption for exercise which would include dancing. Unless eating, drinking or dancing or being seated at a table, therefore, when moving around, queuing at the bar, entering or leaving, going to the toilet etc. a face covering must be worn. This is a legal requirement.


Nightclubs in Scotland are to close for at least three weeks from 27 December 2021.

Nightclub premises will have the option of opening to operate with table service and physical distancing, in line with the requirements for other hospitality businesses.

Public events

For three weeks from 26 December, there will be limits on the size of public events. Those limits will be:

  • Up to 100 people at indoor standing events
  • Up to 200 people at indoor seated events
  • Up to 500 people, either seated or standing, at outdoor events.

Ensuring compliance with the new rules

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

To speak to a Regulatory Officer 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 from the Scottish Government

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