‘Essential that all businesses act responsibly’ to protect public health.
Social distancing guidance for businesses in Scotland has been updated to help provide clarity on protecting employees in the fight against coronavirus (COVID-19).
It provides further information for employers and makes clear that those providing essential services must follow social distancing requirements.
It asks that the owners of businesses and operators of workplaces not required to close by law to consider whether what they do is essential to the efforts in the fight against the virus or benefit the wellbeing of society.
It also asks those employers if they can demonstrate and provide their workforces with reassurance that they are consistently practising safe social distancing and complying with all other standard health and safety requirements.
If the answer to either of these questions is no, workplaces are advised to close.
Economy Secretary Fiona Hyslop said:
“We recognise that this is an extremely difficult time for businesses in Scotland and I must thank the many companies acting responsibly and taking action to protect their workers and the wider public.
“The updated guidance we expect to be published today by the UK Government does not apply in Scotland. The Scottish Government’s established priority is public health and fighting the virus. Workplaces that do not follow the Chief Medical Officer’s clear and consistent precautionary advice may be putting their employees, the wider public and our NHS at risk. It is essential that all businesses act responsibly to safeguard the nation’s health, well-being and economic future.
“Our updated guidance asks non-essential businesses to consider whether their employees can work from home and, where not possible, they should close on a precautionary basis until such time it is clear to all staff and unions that they can operate in a way that is safe and fully compliant with social distancing as reducing our social interactions will reduce the spread of coronavirus.
“We need essential businesses and their supply chains to continue in their work and show that they are complying with social distancing guidance. We will work with business and trades union leaders so that we can all be clear on how activity can be undertaken safely and in a way that is fully compliant with social distancing. Unless and until such guidance is in place, non-essential workplaces, including construction sites, should close.”
The revised guidance sets out all business workplaces that are not being specifically required to close should consider a key set of questions– and at all times work on the precautionary basis:
- Is what you do essential or material to the effort against the virus or to the wellbeing of society?
- Are you able to demonstrate and give confidence to your workforce that you can consistently practice safe social distancing and comply with ALL other standard health and safety requirements?
If the answer to either of the above questions is no, the advice of the Chief Medical Officer on a precautionary basis is to close