Publication - Advice and guidance

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

Published: 26 Jun 2020
Last updated: 16 Jul 2020 - see all updates

Guidance for the safe use of community gardens and allotments.

26 Jun 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 who have been personally advised to shield by letter should follow the shielding guidance, which includes guidance on outdoor activity. This includes maintaining strict physical distancing; choosing times and areas that are quiet, if possible; washing hands for at least 20 seconds as soon returning home.

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 communal activities are only permitted if they involve people from no more than three households, and they should not involve more than 8 people in total.

Outdoor communal activities are only permitted if they involve people from no more than five households, and they should not involve more than 15 people in total.

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.

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:

See also:

First published: 26 Jun 2020 Last updated: 16 Jul 2020 -