Publication - Advice and guidance

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

Published: 28 Sep 2020
Last updated: 4 May 2021 - see all updates

Guidance for the safe use of community gardens and allotments.

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

Protection levels framework 

As Scotland is transitioning out of lockdown it is important to follow the most recent guidance on what you can and cannot do at each protection level. For the latest updates on COVID-19 restrictions please visit the Coronavirus (COVID-19): local protection levels guidance as the rules you have to follow depend on where you live.


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 and sets out the measures that should be put in place to reduce the risk of spreading the virus when using community food-growing sites.

Local authorities and others with responsibility for community food-growing sites may have these sites open, subject to compliance with this guidance and any site specific guidance or risk assessments provided by those responsible for the site. 

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.

The following documents provide background information that should be taken into account when considering these guidelines:

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 comply with the limits on the number of people and households that can meet indoors and outdoors in the area where the site is located, according to that area’s protection level.

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) (Local Levels) (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).

Guidance on how to work out the maximum number of people who can physically distance in public buildings is set out in the Coronavirus (COVID-19): calculating physical distancing capacity in public settings. Premises are expected to publicly display their maximum capacity for the premises with physical distancing taken into account.

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 take account of local protection levels and carefully consider and comply with the Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance on travel and transport and the Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Restrictions and Requirements) (Local Levels) (Scotland) Regulations 2020 when deciding whether they should travel to a site.

People should be encouraged, when they are travelling to a site, to do so 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.


Face coverings must be worn in polytunnels and greenhouses that are within communal areas, and in any other indoor communal area on the site, unless there are measures in place to keep people separated by a partition or distance of at least 2 metres, or unless an exemption applies under the regulations.

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. We 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: 4 May 2021 -