Publication - Advice and guidance

Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance on safer public spaces - urban centres and green spaces

This guidance document focuses on design principles for safer urban centres and green spaces in Scotland during the coronavirus crisis. It contains information and examples of interventions that may be undertaken by owners and operators of public spaces to keep people safe, as restrictions relax.

64 page PDF

6.9 MB

64 page PDF

6.9 MB

Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance on safer public spaces - urban centres and green spaces
2. Principles for safe urban centres and green spaces

64 page PDF

6.9 MB

2. Principles for safe urban centres and green spaces

Owners and operators of public places should take into account the latest advice on physical distancing from the Scottish Government when identifying key issues in urban centres and green spaces.

Guidance on physical distancing, face coverings, cleaning and communications can be found below.

2.1 Physical distancing

The Scottish Government advises maintaining 2 metres (6ft) distance from others (outside of your immediate household) to reduce the risk of transmission of coronavirus. Where physical distancing is not possible, owners and operators as well as the general public, are advised to do everything they can to reasonably reduce the risk. Links to further guidance can be found in the Appendix.

2.2 Protecting people who are at higher risk

The aim of shielding is to protect people who are at greatest risk of severe illness if they catch COVID-19. However, the Scottish Government recognises that asking people to stay at home and minimise all contact with others for a long period of time can significantly impact on quality of life as well as mental and physical health. Having shielded for a considerable time, many people are feeling very anxious about what will happen next. They are eager to resume their lives but unsure how shielding can end while the virus continues to exist in our communities.

In 'Shielding - A Way Forward for Scotland' the Scottish Government starts to answer those questions and chart a possible route out of shielding that allows more freedom while keeping those most at risk safe.

2.3 Self-isolating

'Test and Protect' is Scotland's approach to implementing the 'test, trace, isolate, support' strategy. It is a public health measure designed to break chains of transmission of COVID-19 in the community. Up to now, we have asked people who have symptoms of the virus to self-isolate for 7 days, and the people they live with to self-isolate for 14 days. However, in order to reduce the likelihood of transmission, the NHS will also now be asking people to self-isolate who do not have symptoms but have been in close contact with someone who has been confirmed by testing to have the virus. Information and support for people who are asked to self-isolate because of COVID-19 is available at the below link.

2.4 Addressing the needs of disabled people

The Mobility and Access Committee for Scotland (MACS) is an advisory non-departmental public body which considers matters about the needs of disabled persons in connection with transport and advises the Scottish Ministers on such. MACS has recently produced 'Transport Transition Plans - guidance to operators on assisting disabled passengers' and also guidance on 'Temporary Street Measures during the Coronavirus Crisis'. The guidance makes it clear that it is essential that the impacts upon disabled people (including people who have difficulty walking, wheelchair users, people with cognitive impairments, including dementia, blind and deaf people) are considered. Links to this specific guidance and to the wider work of MACS are located in the Appendix. It is vitally important to remember, as highlighted by the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB), that not all disabilities, including sight loss, are visible.

2.5 Wider Public Health Benefits

The guidance contained in this document is aimed at supporting people to return safely to public spaces whilst maintaining physical distancing. The careful consideration of how measures to support physical distancing are implemented also has the potential to impact positively on wider determinants of health and wellbeing and on health inequalities.

Therefore, wherever possible interventions to support physical distancing should also aim to take advantage of co-benefits for issues such as physical activity and alleviating isolation and loneliness for vulnerable groups.

In particular, interventions should aim to address the needs of specific population groups for whom both the impact of COVID -19 and restrictions have presented additional or different challenges, such as communities living in disadvantage or disabled people.

2.6 Face coverings

The Scottish Government has produced guidance on 'Staying at home and away from others' which can be viewed online (see link in the Appendix). This includes specific guidance on face coverings, and indicates that, whereas the scientific evidence on the benefits of their use is limited, there may be some benefit in wearing a face covering when entering an enclosed space such as a public transport vehicle, or in a railway or bus station or airport where physical distancing is more difficult and where there is a risk of close contact with multiple people that an individual would not usually meet. This measure will also rebuild public confidence in the use of our public transport.

People in Scotland must thus wear a face covering on public transport and public transport premises such as train stations and airports from 22 June 2020. A face covering is a facial covering of the mouth and nose, that is made of cloth or other textiles and through which you can breathe, for example a scarf. You may also use if you prefer a face visor but it must cover your nose and mouth completely. It is most important that what you wear is comfortable when it is being worn.

Details on the use of face coverings and any exemptions from this can be found at the below link.

In addition to having to wear a face covering on public transport we strongly recommend that you wear a face covering in other enclosed environments, such as shops, as a precautionary measure to stop the spread of the virus.

2.7 Cleaning

Owners and operators are advised to implement cleaning protocols to limit coronavirus transmission in public places. It is advised that touch points (e.g. handrails and gates) should be particular areas of focus for increased cleaning. Links to further guidance can be found in the Appendix.

2.8 Hygiene - hand washing, sanitation facilities and toilets

To help everyone maintain good hygiene, consideration should be given to:

  • Using signs and posters to build awareness of good handwashing technique; the need to increase handwashing frequency; to avoid touching your face; and the need to cough or sneeze into a tissue which is binned safely, or into your arm if a tissue is not available. Perform hand hygiene after this.
  • Providing regular reminders and signage to maintain hygiene standards.
  • Providing handwashing facilities and/or hand sanitiser in multiple locations in addition to washrooms. Handwashing facilities and sanitiser should be accessible for disabled people.
  • Setting clear use and cleaning guidance for toilets to ensure they are kept clean and physical (social)-distancing is achieved as much as possible.
  • Enhancing cleaning for busy areas.
  • Special care should be taken for cleaning of portable toilets. Where portable toilets are used, they must allow for proper hand hygiene and cleaning
  • Providing more waste facilities and more frequent rubbish collection.
  • Providing hand drying facilities – either paper towels or electrical driers.

The impact of COVID-19 has led to widespread behaviour change and there is likely to be higher demand for sanitation facilities in outdoor settings. Consideration should be given to the opportunities to provide sanitation facilities for long term use.