Publication - Factsheet

Coronavirus (COVID-19): businesses and workplaces that must close and can remain open at protection level 4

Published: 20 Nov 2020
Last updated: 5 Apr 2021 - see all updates

Businesses and workplaces that must close and those that can remain open in COVID-19 protection Level 4 local authority areas.

20 Nov 2020
Coronavirus (COVID-19): businesses and workplaces that must close and can remain open at protection level 4

COVID-19 Level 4: businesses and workplaces that must close

People should work from home where possible.

To reduce the spread of COVID-19 the following businesses and workplaces in Level 4 local authority areas must close:

  • hospitality venues such as restaurants, cafes, pubs and bars - with the exception of providing food and drink for takeaway (physical distancing rules and face covering rules must be followed), hotels serving food to qualifying guests staying in their premises (key or exempt workers) up to 10 pm, and room service including alcohol again, physical distancing rules and face covering rules must be followed). See: guidance for the tourism and hospitality sector. Within workplaces - workplace canteens may remain open where there is no practical alternative for staff at that workplace to obtain food and a distance of two metres can be maintained between any person using the canteen.
  • non-essential retail, library premises, tanning salons, or premises which operate a self-tanning machine or a spray-tan booth, travel agencies You can continue making deliveries or otherwise providing permitted collection services in response to orders received and paid for through a website, by telephone, including orders by text message, or by post. Permitted collection service means a service that is provided by any of the following: book shops, clothing shops, footwear shops, libraries, and shoe repair shops. Appointments for click and collect should be staggered, with public access limited to collection only, there must be no browsing of premises.
  • independent clinics, independent medical agencies and independent hospitals in relation to the provision of cosmetic or aesthetic procedures, but can remain open for the provision of medical or surgical assistance.
  • holiday accommodation such as hotels, hostels, bed and breakfast accommodation, holiday homes and apartments, cottages or bungalows, campsites, caravan parks or boarding houses must cease to carry on that business. This does not prevent holiday accommodation from being provided to anyone who is unable to return to their main residence, uses that accommodation as their main residence, is living in that accommodation for essential work purposes, needs accommodation while moving house, needs accommodation to attend a funeral, to the homeless or to support services for the homeless, to host blood donation sessions, or for any purpose requested by the Scottish Ministers or a local authority
  • entertainment and leisure venues including cinemas, nightclubs, dance halls, discotheques, concert halls, sexual entertainment venues, indoor or outdoor theatres, comedy clubs, museums and galleries, soft play, bingo halls, funfairs, amusement arcades, casinos, betting shops, conference and exhibition centres, snooker and pool halls, sports stadiums, bowling alleys, skating rinks, snow sports centres, indoor fitness studios, gyms, swimming pools or other indoor leisure centres or facilities and any other venue which normally opens at night, has a dance floor or other space for dancing or spectating by members of the public and provides music, whether live or recorded
  • premises which provide a close contact service and mobile close contact services including beauty and nail services (including make-up services), hair removal services, tattoo, piercing and body modification services, fashion design, fitting and tailoring services where you are in close proximity to another person, indoor portrait photography and art services, massage therapies, but not sports massage provided only to professional sportspersons, complementary and alternative medicine services requiring physical contact or close physical proximity between persons, but not osteopathy and chiropractic services, spa and wellness services, other services or procedures which require physical contact or close physical proximity between a provider and a customer and are not ancillary to medical, health, or social care services. This does not include hairdressing and barber services where these services are provided exclusively by appointment and for a specified time.
  • driving instruction, lessons, including motorcycle lessons, must not be held unless all occupants of the vehicle or vehicles are from the same household
  • vehicle test drives must not go ahead

The premises mentioned, while closed to members of the public can be used to record a performance or sporting event, broadcast a performance or sporting event to persons outside the premises, whether over the internet or as part of a radio or television broadcast, or rehearse, train, practise or otherwise prepare for a performance or sporting event, for education or training purposes, for providing voluntary or charitable services, for any purpose requested by the Scottish Ministers, a health board, a local authority or the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service, to host blood donation sessions to host vaccination services at the request of Government, Local Authorities or Health Board, for local authority child contact purposes or used by a professional sportsperson.

COVID-19 Level 4: businesses and workplaces that can remain open

In Level 4 all workplaces, public and private sector, even those providing essential services and supporting national infrastructure, should as far as possible work from home.  Not every activity within a national infrastructure sector is 'critical' within a workplace setting and could be performed remotely.  

Essential services or Critical National Infrastructure (CNI) are the fundamental services that underpin daily life and ensure the country continues to function.

Where businesses are in the CNI category and judge themselves to be exempt from closure of business premises, not all of their operations may count as essential. 

Workplaces should plan to have the minimum levels of staff physically present to maintain production/services. Where those businesses can operate effectively through home working, then they should do so as that practice is now a legal requirement.

Critical National Infrastructure (CNI) sectors

Critical National Industry (CNI)  sectors are the fundamental services that underpin daily life and ensure the country continues to function. There are 13 designated CNI sectors:

  • energy
  • communications – telecommunications, public broadcast, postal services, internet
  • government - national and local government and their services
  • transport
  • finance
  • civil nuclear
  • defence
  • chemicals –this includes biotech/life science and those supporting directed response to Covid-19 supporting Remobilise, Recover and Redesign framework for NHS and Scotland’s Test and Protect priorities
  • space
  • health
  • food – this refers to food and drink supply and production - which includes agriculture and food production and activity to maintain the food supply chain
  • water and waste – including recycling - the collection, transportation, sorting, and treatment of waste
  • emergency services

However, not every activity within a national infrastructure sector organisation is 'critical’ and must be undertaken in the workplace. Home working should be encouraged where possible.

The default position at all levels and across all sectors, public and private, including CNI sectors is home working wherever possible. Where that is not possible businesses and organisations are encouraged to manage travel demand through staggered start times and flexible working patterns.

Find out more about Critical National Infrastructure sectors on the Ready Scotland website. 

Other businesses and workplaces that can stay open in Level 4

Other businesses and workplaces are permitted to stay open, following COVID-19 guidance and safety measures:

  • food retailers, including food markets, supermarkets, convenience stores and corner shops
  • food takeaways provided the food or drink is provided by delivery to the customer, or the customer does not enter into the premises. There is a ban on outdoor drinking in all Level 4 areas
  • off licenses and licensed shops selling alcohol (including breweries)
  • pharmacies (including non-dispensing pharmacies) and chemists
  • newsagents
  • building merchants and suppliers of products and tools used in building work and repairs
  • petrol stations
  • car repair and MOT services including supply of parts
  • bicycle shops
  • sport and physical activity related workplaces – including outdoor sport facilities, golf courses, outdoor gyms, and those used by professional sportspeople. Workplaces involved in facilitating outdoor non-contact exercise such as coaches and personal trainers. However please note, organised sport and exercise can only take place within a single household group, or a group containing no more than 2 people from 2 different households. Children under the age of 12 from these households do not count towards this number. Organised sport and exercise for under-12s can continue in line with workplace and socialising guidance
  • taxi or vehicle hire businesses
  • banks, building societies, credit unions, short-term loan providers, savings clubs, cash points and undertakings which by way of business operate a currency exchange office, transmit money (or any representation of money) by any means or cash cheques which are made payable to customers
  • post offices
  • crematoriums, burial grounds and funeral directors
  • laundrettes and dry cleaners
  • dental services, opticians, audiology services, chiropody services, chiropractors, osteopaths and other medical or health services, including services relating to mental health, this does not include massage therapy and complementary alternative medicine providers
  • pet shops, suppliers of animal feed and bedding, veterinary practices, mobile vets, veterinary laboratories, wholesalers of vet medicines/supplies, pet crematoria, equestrian centres and other direct activities required to prevent or treat animal suffering including grooming, exercising and general care including day care
  • agricultural supplies shops and agricultural markets
  • pest control
  • storage and distribution facilities, including delivery drop off or collection points, where the facilities are in the premises of a business included in this list
  • car parks
  • public toilets
  • waste including recycling and the collection, transportation, sorting, and treatment of waste
  • livestock markets or auctions
  • unregulated activities for parents and children under 5 such as baby and toddler groups/classes that take place outdoors are permitted. They are limited to a maximum of 7 adults and unlimited under 5s.  
  • outdoor organised activities for children are limited to 15 under 12s which includes a maximum of 2 adult facilitators
  • childminding services caring for less than 12 children may continue to operate their setting for all children during this period 
  • regulated early learning and childcare and school age childcare services can only open to children of key workers and vulnerable children
  • tradespeople - Work carried out in people’s homes should be strictly limited to the provision of essential work or permitted goods and services at Level 4. See: Coronavirus (COVID-19): general guidance for safer workplaces

In addition workplaces in the following sectors/organisations can remain open but should as with other businesses be operating on a work from home basis wherever possible:

  • security and safety sectors
  • organisations and businesses involved in home or business moves including those involved in purchase, sale, letting or rental. However, property viewings should be virtual first, and physical viewings should only be conducted where people are seriously considering making an offer on, or renting, a property, or where a prospective tenant is being offered a rental property and a virtual viewing is not possible. It may also be advisable to delay a viewing or home move in Level 4 areas, where this is possible.  
  • outdoor workplaces
  • construction
  • manufacturing
  • film and TV production
  • laboratories
  • work in people’s homes can continue only for urgent and essential services

Businesses that can continue to operate at Level 4 must:

  • note that work from home where possible is a legal requirement. Where working from home is not possible businesses and organisations are encouraged to manage travel demand through staggered start times and flexible working patterns
  • if operating a workplace follow the sectoral guidance found here: Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance
  • ensure that there are only the minimum number of people needed on site to operate safely and effectively and maintain their service/operations
  • ensure 2 metres physical distancing, good ventilation, the wearing of face coverings and effective hand and respiratory hygiene should be maintained where possible - these are the most effective means of preventing transmission of the virus
  • there is specific guidance for car sharing that should be followed: Advice on car and vehicle sharing (
  • there is specific guidance for accommodation of workers that should be followed: Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance on workers' accommodation

Support for businesses

Support is available for businesses required by law to close to the public  or significantly modify their operations.




First published: 20 Nov 2020 Last updated: 5 Apr 2021 -