Publication - Advice and guidance

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Phase 3: staying safe and protecting others

Rules on staying safe and protecting others to help suppress coronavirus (COVID-19).

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Phase 3: staying safe and protecting others
Working or running a business


COVID-19 protection levels: we have set out plans for a new 5-level system to help tackle the spread of the virus. Read more about the new protection levels, which are due to be introduced from 2 November.

Safety is our priority. We must control the virus and try to stop it spreading.

All workplaces that are not being specifically required to close should consider a set of key questions – and at all times work on a precautionary basis:

  • is your workplace currently able to open in accordance with the dates set out in the route map for moving out of lockdown? (Some workplaces will either have no date confirmed for re-opening yet or will not have reached their respective date where that has been set out.)
  • are you able to demonstrate and give confidence to your workforce that you can consistently practice safe physical distancing and comply with ALL other standard health and safety requirements?

If the answer to any of the above questions is no, the advice of the Chief Medical Officer on a precautionary basis is that the work place should close.  

More detailed information and exemptions can be found at Coronavirus: business and physical distancing guidance. This includes the list of those businesses and other venues that must close by law.  

Operators of work places and other premises that are not closed should look critically at their operations and must ensure that they take all measures where reasonably practicable so that workers and anyone else on the premises stay at least 2 metres from each other, or 1 metre in hospitality or transport environments where relevant mitigations are in place.

Work places that are open must also ensure that they admit people into their premises in sufficiently small numbers to maintain a 2 metre distancing or 1 metre in hospitality or transport environments, and take steps to ensure that distance can also be maintained by people (for example, customers) waiting to enter their premises.

Work places and venues that are open must also take any other measures, where reasonably practicable, to minimise the risk of and spread of coronavirus spreading. This would include things like installing barriers or screens, providing or requiring use of personal protective equipment and/or face coverings, controlling use of shared facilities such as toilets and kitchens, changing the layout of premises including the location of furniture and workstations, and providing information to those entering or working at the premises about how to minimise the risk of exposure to coronavirus.

Further guidance for individual sectors can be found at: Coronavirus (COVID-19): collection

Going to work

The Scottish Government has issued a joint statement with the STUC on fair work principles which should be taken into account when applying this guidance. 

In line with Test and Protect all workers should follow the NHS Inform guidance on self-isolation if they or anyone in their household shows coronavirus symptoms.

Advice for employers on helping staff who need to self-isolate is available.

Certain businesses and venues are required by law to remain closed. These are set out in: Coronavirus: business and physical distancing guidance.

Advice for employees of these organisations on employment and financial support is available at:

Working at home  

Remote working should remain the default position for those who can do so. Where that is not possible businesses and organisations are encouraged to manage travel demand through staggered start times and flexible working patterns.

All employers and employees should discuss their working arrangements, and employers should take every possible step to facilitate their employees working from home, including providing suitable IT and equipment to enable remote working.

Reopening workplaces

The route map and guidance for specific industries and sectors (for example construction) sets out which sectors can re-open. Workplaces that are not scheduled to re-open according to the dates set out in the route map should stay closed.

Employers who have people in their offices or on site must take all reasonable measures to ensure that employees are able to maintain an appropriate distance from each other. They should also follow guidance on frequent hand washing (for at least 20 seconds each time, or using hand sanitiser gel if soap and water is not available). 

Work carried out in people’s homes can continue, provided that the tradesperson is well and is not showing coronavirus symptoms and neither they nor any of their household are self-isolating.

No work should be carried out in any household which is isolating, unless it is to remedy a direct risk to the safety of the household, such as emergency plumbing or repairs, and where the tradesperson is willing to do so. In such cases, Health Protection Scotland guidance can provide advice to tradespeople and households. No work should be carried out by a tradesperson who has coronavirus symptoms, however mild.



First published: 19 Oct 2020 Last updated: 22 Oct 2020 -