Publication - Advice and guidance

Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance for retail, tourism and hospitality customers

Guidance for customers on how the retail experience in shops, tourism and hospitality businesses is changing due to coronavirus.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance for retail, tourism and hospitality customers


Your experience in shops is changing due to coronavirus. Retailers, following government guidance are working to ensure the safety of customers and colleagues. To ensure we keep transmission of coronavirus low, customers are asked to behave responsibly.

As restrictions are eased, the emphasis will continue to be on personal responsibility, good practice and informed judgement. We publish the latest information on Coronavirus in Scotland on our website.

To stay safe, to protect others and to save lives customers should:

  • shop local - do not travel further than necessary when visiting stores
  • be patient - shopping may take longer than you may be used to and you may need to queue for longer as a result. Please do not smoke when queuing outside shops.
  • wear a face covering - when you go in to stores you must wear a face covering unless one of the exemptions apply:
    • children under 5
    • people with health conditions who cannot put on, wear or remove a face covering because of any physical or mental illness or impairment or disability or without severe distress
    • if people need to take medication or to eat or drink where reasonable necessary
    • temporary removal to comply with a request by a relevant person or another person acting in the course of their duties
    • for customers with a hearing impairment and those who lip-read, and remove the face coverings, as necessary, to provide advice, information or assistance
    • for age-related sales customers are asked to ensure that they remove face coverings in accordance with requests from staff
    • in some food-handling settings where the wearing of a mask could compromise the hygiene practices that are already in place to ensure food safety
    • for staff in customer-facing areas if there is physical distancing and a partition such as a perspex screen between customers and staff
  • shop in as small a group as possible. Shop on your own, or if you are with children, have caring responsibilities or disabilities, which can be un-seen, shop in as small a group as possible
  • fet help: If you have symptoms of COVID-19 and are self-isolating, or are vulnerable or shielding and you need essential items like food or medicine you should request assistance from friends, family, community support groups, make an online order, or call the National Helpline on 0800 111 4000
  • avoid crowded shops. Do not shop at times when shops will be busy. If you do not think you can distance within a shop, try to come back another time
  • protect yourself and others. Visit stores that are using infection control measures and use available hand sanitiser or take your own, and avoid touching goods as much as possible. We have published guidance for retailers which will provide you with an understanding of retailers’ responsibilities
  • be polite. Please ensure that you are considerate to retail staff and abide by their guidance and instructions including removing your face covering if requested for proof of age
  • behave: abusive behaviour will not to be tolerated and at its worst it could constitute criminality

Retailers, employees and customers each have a part to play in making responsible choices to allow us to make progress in reopening the retail sector safely. 

First published: 9 Oct 2020 Last updated: 16 Jul 2021 -