Publication - Advice and guidance

Coronavirus (COVID-19): retail sector guidance

Guidance for the retail sector, including close contact services such as hairdressers, barbers and beauty salons, which covers procedures for staff and customer safety and an operations checklist.

Close contact services

The Scottish Government’s Route Map phase 3 update provided clarity that personal / close contact retail services can reopen from 22 July. Examples of retail services are provided below. This is not a definitive list but business owners should reference the list to understand if their business is similar:

  • hairdressing
  • barbershops
  • beauty and nail bars (own premises only)
  • make up (own premises only)
  • tattoo studios
  • spas and wellness businesses
  • dress fitters
  • tailors
  • fashion designers
  • indoor photography studios
  • shoe fitters

Private health and care practitioners

  • massage therapists (own premises only)
  • complementary alternative medicine providers (own premises only)

Further guidance on close contact mobile working, including working in customer’s homes, will be published in due course.

Business owners and staff should also follow the principles in the wider retail guidance, including guidance relating to the high risk zone and good practice, which may restrict the services that can be offered. NHS inform general advice is a useful source of information for clients who might be at highest risk of COVID-19.

Test and Protect

Test and Protect is also a key point for providers to be aware of. This guidance provides details on Test and Protect, but for close contact services there is an additional requirement to retain customers’ / client’s details for 21 days with a view to sharing their contact information with Test and Protect Teams if required. Providers should discuss this with clients so that they agree to have their contact details used for this purpose.

Services offered in the ‘high risk zone’

The ‘high risk zone’ is defined as ‘the area in front of the face where splashes and droplets from the nose and mouth may be present, which can pose a hazard’. If treatments in the high risk zone cannot be carried out without the ability to be provided from the side of the face or behind the head and therefore require prolonged periods in the highest risk zone then they should not be offered in this phase of the Scottish Government’s Route Map

Good practice

Consideration be given to what is a safe practice. Practitioners should assess their practice for all therapy treatments they deliver to ensure they only provide safe services.

Practitioners should seek to avoid skin-to-skin contact with colleagues and client if it is not crucial for the treatment. Gloves provide a barrier where there is anticipated contact with blood or body fluids and should continue to be used for any treatments where this is a risk. However over-use of gloves leads to contamination of both the users gloves and the surrounding environment. Frequent hand decontamination is very important. Alcohol-based hand rub should be used regularly where hand washing cannot occur.

Good practice involves the practitioner continually moving from side to side or from the back avoiding the high-risk zone, inactive periods, and keeping the activity time involved as short as possible.

Good hygiene principles for non-healthcare settings

Hand hygiene

  • COVID-19 is spread when respiratory secretions from an infected person enters the mouth, nose or eyes of another.  One way in which this can happen is by touching your eyes, nose or mouth with contaminated hands. It is therefore important to avoid touching the face with unwashed hands
  • perform hand hygiene regularly and especially before and after eating
  • promote good hand hygiene for all staff/visitors/service users
  • ensure there are sufficient hand washing facilities and provision of alcohol based hand rub (ABHR) at key areas such as entry and exit points

Coughs and sneezes

  • catch coughs and sneezes in a tissue and dispose of any tissues into a bin and wash hands immediately
  • if an individual does not have tissues to hand, they should catch coughs and sneezes in the crook of their elbow


  • ensure regular detergent cleaning schedules and procedures are in place using a product which is active against bacteria and viruses
  • ensure regular (at least twice daily) cleaning of commonly touched objects and surfaces (telephones, keyboards, door handles, desks, counter tops etc). Examples should apply to the relevant setting.

Face coverings

  • face coverings are now mandatory for retail, including retail services. Read more about face coverings
  • it is important to note the difference between face masks and face coverings. Face masks are surgical or medical grade masks that are used in health and social care situations. Face coverings are made from cloth or other textiles that cover the mouth and nose, and through which you can breathe (e.g. a scarf). The use of face masks is not currently recommended for the general population. We have issued guidance on the personal use of face coverings

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

  • PPE protects the user against health or safety risks at work. It can include items such as safety helmets, gloves, eye protection, high-visibility clothing, safety footwear and safety harnesses. Occupations should continue to use any PPE required as per local policies (business as usual) and there are no requirements for additional PPE to be worn.

We have developed a checklist that should be considered by close contact business owners as part of a risk assessment.  

UK Government guidance

The UK Government has published Guidance for Close Contact Services. The UK Government guidance has been developed in consultation with the Scottish Government and is a recommended source of information. Key points of divergence between the Scottish Government and the UK Government advice are that face coverings are mandatory for clients and for staff under the conditions listed in the face coverings section of this guidance. We are also not banning treatment from taking place in the high-risk zone subject to the earlier section on the high risk zone.

The pertinent points of the UK Government guidance are to:

  • encourage clients to use hand sanitiser or handwashing facilities as they enter the premises or before treatment
  • calculate the maximum number of clients that can reasonably follow social distancing guidelines and limiting the number of appointments at any one time
  • when booking an appointment, ask the client if they can attend on their own, where possible
  • remind clients who are accompanied by children that they are responsible for supervising them at all times and should follow social distancing guidelines
  • operate an appointment-only system
  • maintaining social distancing in waiting areas when clients wait for their appointments
  • when waiting areas can no longer maintain social distancing, consider moving to a ‘one-in-one-out’ policy
  • encourage clients to arrive at the time of their scheduled appointment
  • COVID-19 related screening questions to be asked of clients ahead of their appointment, including:
    • have you had the recent onset of a new continuous cough?
    • do you have a high temperature?
    • have you noticed a loss of, or change in, normal sense of taste or smell?
  • if the client has any of these symptoms, however mild, they should stay at home and reschedule their appointment


Last updated: 28 July 2020



First published: 7 Oct 2020 Last updated: 15 Oct 2020 -