Publication - Advice and guidance

Coronavirus (COVID-19): retail sector guidance

Guidance for the retail sector, including close contact services such as hairdressers, barbers and beauty salons, which covers procedures for staff and customer safety and an operations checklist.


This guidance is for the retail sector in Scotland. It came into effect immediately - from 26 May 2020 - and extends until further notice. It will be reviewed in line with the regular three weekly review of lockdown requirements. 

The guidance sets out the Scottish Government’s expectations on the steps retail businesses will take before and after reopening. It does not constitute legal advice, and businesses may wish to seek their own advice to ensure compliance with all legal duties. We have worked with employers and trade unions  to ensure that this guidance is evidence-based, fair and ethical, clear and realistic. As each workplace is different it is for individual businesses to work with trade unions or workforce representatives selected by employees to determine how best to apply this guidance in their circumstances. 

This document is one of a set of documents about how to work safely in different types of workplace. It is designed to be relevant for people who work in or run shops, branches, stores or similar environments. It should be applied at the local level. Each business will need to translate this into the specific actions it needs to take depending on the nature of their business (i.e. the size and type of business, how it is organised, operated, managed and regulated) using this document as a guide. It has been designed to be applied to cover the spectrum of different retailers in Scotland from department stores to independent traders. See the operational guide for retailers section which has a downloadable checklist for retailers with actions to consider.

There are now posters available to print off to encourage the use of mandatory face coverings and health and safety messaging in the supporting files link above. Retailers are encouraged to display these posters, or posters with their own branding in their premises.

To judge whether and when restrictions can be changed we will consider a range of evidence on the progress of the pandemic in Scotland using the principles set out in Coronavirus (COVID-19): framework for decision making and our long-established commitment to fair work, which was set in the context of the current crisis in a joint statement with the STUC (which we have taken into account when developing this guidance).

To help you decide which actions to take, you need to carry out an appropriate COVID-19 risk assessment, just as you would for other health and safety related hazards. The checklist included with this guidance should provide you with a good starting place. This risk assessment should be undertaken in consultation with trade unions, employee representatives or employees. The key areas which you need to consider are outlined in each of the sections. This guidance will assist businesses already operating, in identifying, reviewing and maintaining the changes they will need to make to prevent the spread of COVID-19 across their operations.

As a retailer you should consider whether you could operate using online and mail-order services and click and collect safely and in line with this guidance. There is also a lot of value in working together as retailers in smaller towns through business associations and chambers of commerce to manage safe re-opening co-operatively, when current restrictions are relaxed. In addition to this guidance and the references within, there is a lot of good learning from retailers that have been providing essential services during the health emergency. As we progress through unlocking the economy there will be complex issues to navigate and we ask that retailers use this guidance to inform their decision making in terms of when is the right time to reopen and the measures that need to be implemented to ensure there is a safe return.

Last updated: 10 July 2020



First published: 7 Oct 2020 Last updated: 15 Oct 2020 -