Publication - Advice and guidance

Coronavirus (COVID-19): community food-growing spaces

Published: 28 Sep 2020
Last updated: 28 Sep 2020 - see all updates

Guidance for the safe use of community gardens and allotments.

28 Sep 2020
Coronavirus (COVID-19): community food-growing spaces


This guidance applies to outdoor community food-growing sites. This includes all forms of community food-growing sites such as community gardens and allotment sites, including communal growing areas of allotment sites. The guidance applies to all visitors, users and volunteers of community food-growing sites.

Any employees of community food-growing sites should follow the guidance contained in the Science & Advice for Scottish Agriculture guidance to the horticulture, fruit and vegetable sector and the Scottish Government’s  returning to work safely guidance.

Plans published on 21st May in Scotland’s route map through and out of the COVID-19 crisis, 18th June in the Phase 2 update and 9th July in the Phase 3 update set out the plans  to ease restrictions in Scotland as we exit from lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Local authorities and others with responsibility for community food-growing sites may reopen these sites as part of the additional outdoor activity which is permitted, subject to compliance with this guidance.    

People who should not visit a community food-growing site

Anyone who should self-isolate, e.g. because they or a member of their household have COVID-19 symptoms, or they have been advised that they have been in contact with a person who has tested positive for COVID-19, should follow the NHS Inform guidance and must stay at home for the period of their self-isolation and not attend a community food-growing site. Follow the guidance on self-isolation on NHS Inform.  

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. This is part of Test and Protect - Scotland’s approach to implementing the 'test, trace, isolate, support' strategy.  Read more about Test and Protect.

People at higher risk from Coronavirus (including people aged over 70, people who are pregnant and people with an underlying medical condition) should strictly follow physical distancing guidance.

Onsite attendance and safety at community food-growing sites

The measures contained in this guidance should, where practicable, be communicated to volunteers and users of community food-growing spaces in advance of their attendance.  Local authorities and others with responsibility for community food-growing sites should ensure the following points are adhered to onsite.

Tool sharing

The sharing of tools, gloves etc. is strongly discouraged due to the risk of transmission of COVID-19. Users and volunteers at sites should be encouraged to bring their own gloves.  Any onsite tools should be disinfected after each use.

Communal activities/events

Indoor and outdoor communal activities are only permitted if they involve people from no more than two households, and not more than 6 people in total. 

Where a communal activity takes place outdoors, children under 12 do not count towards the maximum number of households or number of people who can participate. Where a communal activity takes place indoors, children under 12 do not count towards the maximum number of people who can participate but the 2 household rule still applies. Children do not have to physically distance.

Where a communal activity takes place outdoors and consists of people all of whom are under 18, but at least one of whom is at least 12, a maximum of six people can participate, with no household limit. Physical distancing is still required for those aged 12 and over.

There are some exceptions to the restriction on numbers of people and households in certain circumstances set out in the Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Restrictions and Requirements) (Scotland) Regulations 2020.

Any communal activities should comply with physical distancing and there should be no sharing of food or utensils onsite.

Physical distancing

Compliance with physical distancing of 2 metres including, if necessary, limiting the number of people within the site at any one time and/or considering a one-way system within the site (together with any necessary signage).

Hand hygiene

People attending a community food-growing site should be reminded of the importance of handwashing before leaving home to travel to the site, and handwashing as soon as they return home. Encourage compliance with hand hygiene guidance onsite, e.g. providing hand sanitiser or suitable hand wash facilities.

Cleaning and sanitising

Regular cleaning and sanitising of any communal or frequently used areas e.g. taps and gates. The risk of transmission of COVID-19 at communal areas such as taps and gates should be highlighted via adequate signage.


Provide adequate signage to reinforce the 2 metre physical distancing, hand hygiene, cough/sneeze etiquette, COVID-19 transmission and cleaning/sanitising of communal area messages.

Travel to site

People should be encouraged to travel to the site via active travel methods such as walking or cycling, or in their own car and only with members of their own household.   People should be advised to think carefully whether they need to use public transport for travel to the site.


The use of face coverings in polytunnels and greenhouses should be encouraged where physical distancing is challenging. Air vents should be opened to maximise air flow. People must not congregate in a polytunnel, greenhouse or other onsite indoor space and the restrictions on numbers of people and households for indoor communal activities apply.

Disabled people and children and young people

Provide appropriate support disabled people and children and young people onsite to ensure that they are able to comply with this guidance.

Further guidance

The information contained in this document is provided as guidance only. It does not provide legal advice. The Scottish Government will keep this guidance under review and update it as required. Scottish Government and other sources of advice regarding COVID-19 can be accessed via the following links:

There is also helpful and relevant guidance contained in Scottish Community Development Centre’s advice for community groups, organisations and volunteer networks fighting Covid-19.

First published: 28 Sep 2020 Last updated: 28 Sep 2020 -