Publication - Advice and guidance

Coronavirus (COVID-19): close contact services

Information for people who provide close contact services such as hairdressers, barbers and beauticians on working safely during coronavirus.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): close contact services
How to use this guidance

How to use this guidance

Each business/third sector organisation, will need to translate this guidance into the specific actions they need 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.

This is provided as guidance only and does not amount to legal advice. Employers may wish to seek their own legal advice to ensure compliance with all legal duties.

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. 

It has been designed to be applied to cover the spectrum of different businesses / third sector organisations in Scotland. We have published a downloadable checklist for close contact businesses with actions to consider. To support Scottish businesses to reopen for both staff and customers safely, we have produced a series of resources that highlight the latest guidance and regulations (April 2021) in Dropbox, together with where to find more information. Close contact service businesses and third sector organisations are encouraged to display these posters, or posters with their own branding in their premises.

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. Risk assessments 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 and third sector organisations in identifying, reviewing and maintaining the changes they will need to make to prevent the spread of COVID-19 across their operations.

As a business or third sector organisation offering close contact services 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 value in working together in smaller towns through business associations and chambers of commerce to manage safe re-opening and trading co-operatively. As we progress through fully unlocking the economy there will be complex issues to navigate and we ask that those providing close contact services use this guidance to inform their decision making in terms of when the right time to reopen is and the measures that need to be implemented to ensure it is done safely.

For close contact services, customer and practitioners should refer to their local Strategic Framework level and associated guidance to understand whether they should seek or provide services. A person who provides a close contact service must not provide that service in a Level 4 area, subject to the exception regarding premises-based hairdressers and barbers which may operate by appointment only from 5 April 2021. All treatment rooms located within a premises-based hair/barber salon must be closed off in Level 4. If a customer and practitioner are located in areas at different levels, they should default to whichever level is highest, for example:

  • customers unable to obtain services in their area because they are not permitted at the current level should not travel to areas in lower levels to obtain those services
  • practitioners unable to provide services in their area because they are not permitted at the current level should not travel to areas in lower levels to provide those services
  • neither customers nor practitioners should travel into areas at higher levels to seek or provide services

Sector specific advice

Whilst this guidance has been developed for the close contact services sector in Scotland, we appreciate that some sub-sectors will require further advice for the services/treatments they provide. For these areas, further guidance has been published for:

  • photographers
  • services ancillary to medical health


Close contact guidance applies to portrait photographers operating an indoor shop/studio. Face coverings must be worn at all times unless an exemption applies, and they must not be removed for the purposes of taking a photograph. Partitions must be in place between the photographer and the customer/client, or a distance of 2 metres must be maintained at all times.

Services ancillary to medical health

Where these ‘other services or procedures’ are ancillary to medical, health or social care services they may continue in Level 4 areas. This is to ensure that necessary medical, health or social care services, including care packages, may continue. 

In relation to what other services are considered ancillary to medical, health, or social care services and may therefore continue in Level 4 areas, the we cannot provide advice in relation to specific or individual examples -  it is for individual practitioners to ensure that any other services or procedures they provide under level 4 restrictions are legitimately ancillary to medical, health, or social care services.  In Level 4 areas, we would advise that the focus of such treatment/care should be restricted to essential or urgent treatment of clinically diagnosed conditions where no treatment would have a significantly adverse impact on the wellbeing of the patient. For example, this could be treatment or care being provided in a hospice as part of a palliative care package. 

Allied Health Professionals such as physiotherapists or podiatrists may operate in level 4 areas if they are providing ‘other services or procedures’ which are ancillary to medical, health or social care services. However, we continue to call on their professionalism and clinical judgement to ensure the range of treatments provided is appropriate and delivered in a way that does not have an adverse impact on the national effort to keep COVID-19 under control.