Publication - Advice and guidance

Coronavirus (COVID-19): retail sector guidance

Guidance for the retail sector, including procedures for staff and customer safety and an operations checklist.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): retail sector guidance


This guidance is for the retail sector in Scotland. Its purpose is to assist businesses that provide retail services to operate safely and in accordance with the Scottish Government guidance.

It has been designed to be applied to cover the spectrum of different retailers in Scotland from department stores to independent traders, with additional guidance for food retailers on the Food Standards Scotland Website. The operational guide for retailers section has a downloadable checklist for retailers 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. Retailers are encouraged to display these posters, or posters with their own branding in their premises.

For information on close contact services, see the separate guidance for the close contact sector.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): framework for decision making – Scotland’s route map through and out of the crisis sets out a phased approach to exiting from the lockdown. To judge whether and when restrictions can be changed we will consider a range of evidence on the progress of the pandemic in Scotland, using the principles set out in the Framework for Decision Making and our long-established commitment to fair work, which was set in the context of the current crisis in a joint statement with the STUC. Guidance will be reviewed on a regular basis as our priority remains containing the spread of the virus, saving lives and safeguarding the NHS.

The Coronavirus (COVID-19): Strategic Framework update sets out how we plan to restore, in a phased way, greater normality to our everyday lives. It updates the original Strategic Framework to take account of important developments, including new and highly infectious strains of the virus and progress with the vaccination roll-out. Our strategic intent remains to: suppress the virus to the lowest possible level and keep it there, while we strive to return to a more normal life for as many people as possible. The Framework explains how we will use all of the tools we have available to get coronavirus (COVID-19) to the lowest possible level and keep it there.

This guidance has been developed in collaboration with industry, trade unions, regulators, and others. Protecting the health of workers is at the heart of our approach. Partnership working is fundamental to establishing a shared confidence around the safety of workplaces, protecting public health and supporting Scotland’s economic recovery. We have worked with employers and trade unions to ensure that this guidance is evidence-based, fair and ethical, clear and realistic.

Each retailer 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 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. 

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 already operating, in identifying, reviewing and maintaining the changes they will need to make to prevent the spread of COVID-19 across their operations.

As a retailer 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 retailers 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.



First published: 1 Apr 2021 Last updated: 28 Jul 2021 -