Publication - Advice and guidance

Coronavirus (COVID-19): tourism and hospitality sector guidance

Guidance for the tourism and hospitality sector, including procedures for staff and customer safety and an operations checklist.

Exemption to 1m for hospitality

On 2 July the First Minister announced that exemptions will be permitted for public transport, retail and hospitality sectors to allow a move from 2m to 1m physical distancing. This is conditional on appropriate additional mitigating measures being implemented to reduce the elevated risk associated with a 1m distance as oppose to 2m. For the purpose of this guidance, hospitality sectors relates to public houses, restaurants and cafes, including those where they are situated within other premises, such as hotels, visitor attractions and clubs. This applies to indoor and outdoor areas from 15 July 2020.

An update to the Scottish Government’s route-map was also published on 2 July that included examples, for illustrative purposes, of what those additional measures could be. Many of these measures are already embedded in the other sections of this sector guidance for tourism and hospitality as they relate to 2m and should, in most cases, already be included in safe reopening plans for both outdoor and indoor areas of hospitality. This includes a risk-assessed approach to enhanced hygiene measures throughout the premises, safe access arrangements, the use of screens, clear signage, and safe ordering and payment systems. Where these existing measures are not currently within reopening plans they should be reconsidered as part of revised risk assessments for operating at 1m. 

Sector guidance has also been updated in relation to the collection of customer contact details to support Scotland’s Test and Protect system and additional guidance has been published on the safe use of toilet facilities. These should all be taken into account for planning purposes.

Additional mitigating measures

Following discussion with industry representatives and unions, the following revised list of additional mitigating measures is provided to help businesses consider how best to adapt their premises to facilitate safe operating at 1m. 

No standing at bar areas/all customers seated

Standing areas around bars can become crowded spaces making even 1m physical distancing difficult and should be avoided. Physical distancing is easier to achieve at pre-arranged seating areas

Review layouts

To ensure 1m spacing and back to back or side to side arrangements between seated groups.

Face coverings for staff

While face coverings for customers is not practical in an eating and drinking environment, they should – where necessary – be made available for staff to afford them and others added protection, such as in front-of-house roles

Improved ventilation

Adequate and good quality ventilation should be standard in indoor commercial spaces – businesses should consider current arrangements and whether additional measures are required to make improvements. HSE guidance on this issue may be helpful

Measures to reduce noise to avoid the raising of voices

Areas where people have to raise their voice above normal levels to speak and be heard can contribute to the spread of coronavirus. The level and volume of music and other background noise, such as live sports on TV or around games tables, is a key consideration and steps should be taken to ensure volume levels do not present a risk to staff and customers.

1 metre zone signage

It is important that clear signage is displayed at entry points and throughout the premises to inform customers that they are within a 1m physical distancing zone. A simple notice that states that "this is a 1 metre physical distancing zone – follow the advice of staff and observe physical distancing” will be sufficient and must be used by all premises seeking to operate within the 1m exemption. Businesses should make arrangements to prepare sufficient signage

It is acknowledged that not all of these measures will be relevant in every setting but that it is for individual businesses to consider where they do relate to their specific business and reflect this in their risk assessments. These are in addition to existing measures required for operating at 2m, which still applies to all other areas covered by the sector guidance where 2m remains the default.

Revised risk assessment

It remains the case that businesses must, in line with the general sector guidance, adopt a risk based approach and revise existing risk assessments to incorporate additional mitigating measures. The assessing risk section of the sector guidance provides information and tools to help carry out risk assessments and the checklist has been updated to incorporate the additional mitigating measures.


Central Enquiry Unit
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
Regent Road

First published: 23 Jul 2020 Last updated: 30 Jul 2020 -