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.

4 page DOCX

228.3 kB

4 page DOCX

228.3 kB

Coronavirus (COVID-19): retail sector guidance
Key mitigations

4 page DOCX

228.3 kB

Key mitigations

The new, more transmissible variants of COVID-19 mean that it is essential to continue to rigorously adhere to effective mitigations which include physical distancing, ventilation, face coverings and good hygiene practices.

Retailers are encouraged to use signage, tannoy announcements and any other relevant communication tools to convey key health and safety messages e.g. the importance of good ventilation hand and respiratory hygiene, maintaining physical distancing and the requirement for face coverings, ensuring that there are no unintended impacts on people with disabilities or caring responsibilities. Messages should be clear and easy to understand.


The provision of fresh air into indoor environments is essential to reducing the risk of the spread of COVID-19. Taking measures to increase the volume of outside air entering a building, such as opening windows, doors or vents, can help minimise the risk of spreading COVID-19 to staff and customers. The Scottish Government has developed ventilation guidance to support the mixing of individuals safely in indoor domestic and commercial properties where this is necessary.

Ventilation should be considered as part of a hierarchy of risk controls approach. These include:

  • effective fresh air ventilation, working alongside face coverings, distancing and enhanced hygiene regimes
  • restricting or reducing duration of activities indoors
  • room layout
  • utilising rooms with good ventilation and focus mitigations on those without
  • use of face coverings should be considered alongside ventilation for reducing far-field aerosol transmission risks
  • factoring in the use of suitable air cleaning devices to enhance indoor air quality.

A well ventilated space reduces the concentration of viral load in the air, reducing the risk of transmission of the virus. Evidence to date suggests that poorly ventilated spaces pose the highest risk, so it is recommended that mitigation measures focus on those spaces where ventilation is absent or inadequate. It is important to note that air cleaning devices do not provide additional fresh air into a space. Specialist ventilation engineering advice should be sought prior to investment/installation of these devices.

Face coverings

Regulations came into effect on 10 July 2020 that made it mandatory for face coverings to be worn in all retail settings, with additional regulations from 9 October 2020 that made it mandatory for face coverings to be worn in storage and distribution facilities, and for face coverings to be worn in communal staff areas in both retail and storage and distribution facilities.  The Scottish Government has published more advice on face coverings, including what exemptions apply.

Considerations for staff

Where a face covering may need to be temporarily removed, such as in staff rest areas when eating/drinking, facilities should be provided to manage the risk this could pose. Where staff have concerns about wearing face coverings this should be resolved in discussion between staff and managers. 

Physical distancing

Businesses should ensure that at least 2-metre physical distancing is applied to all parts of a workplace, including staff canteens, entrances and exits, break rooms, smoking areas, and similar settings.

More advice on how to apply physical distancing in retail settings can be found in the retail checklist (supporting documents section).

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) in consultation with the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied workers (USDAW) published its Physical Distancing in Retail Stores and Warehouses guidance. 

These recommendations cover two areas:

  • warehouse and distribution settings
  • re-opening of other retail premises  

BRC has worked with USDAW to agree practical recommendations for businesses to consider. This guidance can be used in conjunction with the Scottish Government’s guidance. There is also an operational FAQ which provides additional guidance on specific issues that may be useful to consult in order to inform your workplace adaptation.


We have published guidance for the purposes of calculating capacity. This guidance provides a draft methodology for calculating a physical distance based capacity (PDBC) limit in public settings including - but not limited to - businesses, places of worship and public events.

This is draft guidance and may be amended following engagement with stakeholders.

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. Employers should promote good hand hygiene for all staff/visitors/service users and ensure there are sufficient hand washing facilities and provision of alcohol based hand rub (ABHR) at key areas such as entry and exit points. WHO guidelines on hand hygiene in healthcare state that alcohol solutions containing 60-80% alcohol are most effective.


Retailers should ensure regular detergent cleaning schedules and procedures are in place using a product which is active against bacteria and viruses and following the manufacturer’s instructions for dilution, application and contact times for all detergents and disinfectants. They should also ensure regular (at least twice daily) cleaning of commonly touched objects and surfaces (telephones, keyboards, door handles, desks, counter tops etc.).

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Health Protection Scotland (HPS) have provided COVID-19 information and guidance for general (non-healthcare) settings. The HPS guidance also offers advice on the use of PPE, confirming workplaces should use PPE consistent with local policies and in line with measures justified by a risk assessment.

Test and Protect

Due to dwelling times associated with betting shops, we ask that these shops collect customer and visitor data akin to hospitality venues to support Test and Protect. This requirement is for betting shops only, other shops do not need to maintain records of customers and visitors.

Test and Protect, Scotland’s approach to implementing the “test, trace, isolate, support” strategy is a public health measure designed to break chains of transmission of COVID-19 in the community.  

All employers will need to be familiar with our Test and Protect advice for employers, which outlines how to support employees who are required to self-isolate. More information of Test and Protect can be found on the Scottish Government website

We strongly urge all premises and providers with the means to sign up and use the free Test & Protect ‘Check-in Scotland’ digital service.  All guidance, a user toolkit and to register to generate you unique QR poster can be found at: Check-in Scotland -

The Protect Scotland app is a free, mobile phone app designed to help us protect each other and reduce the spread of coronavirus.

The app signposts to existing guidance on NHS Inform, Ready Scotland and the Scottish Government website, including on what to do if you receive an alert and are advised to self-isolate.


Transport Scotland's Transition Plan sets out guidance on travel and transportation.



First published: 1 Apr 2021 Last updated: 22 Apr 2021 -