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.

Where we are now

The Scottish Government has initiated a broad collaborative process to develop sectoral guidance. Our aim to is to provide clarity and confidence to industry, employees and local communities, whilst also protecting public health and supporting the economic recovery. Aligned with that we are reviewing and enhancing testing and enforcement arrangements, and ensuring that the guidance is coherent and connected, recognising for example transport and other inter-dependencies. The Coronavirus (COVID-19): framework for decision making – Scotland’s route map through and out of the crisis, was published on 21 May and sets out the phases by which we will aim to ease lockdown. They will be gradual and incremental and will be matched with careful monitoring of the virus.

We are working with the UK Government to align our approach and guidance, where possible, on the basis of scientific evidence on the levels of infection in Scotland. This guidance aims to assist employers, businesses and their workforce ensure a safe working environment  and readers will easily recognise consistent themes in this guidance with the UK Government’s Working Safely During Coronavirus (COVID-19) publications.


Physical distancing duties are set out in Regulation 4(1) of the Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Restrictions) (Scotland) Regulations 2020. The regulations have been updated on 10 July 2020 to reflect the move from 2m to 1m physical distancing in certain retail premises. This guidance and the risk assessment process should be used to ensure that mitigation measures are in place.

For retail premises, enforcement of this legislation is undertaken by Environmental Health and Trading Standards local authority staff in agreement with Police Scotland.

This guidance does not supersede any legal obligations relating to health and safety, employment or equalities and it is important that as a business or an employer you continue to comply with your existing obligations, including those relating to individuals with protected characteristics. It contains non-statutory guidance to take into account when complying with these existing obligations. When considering how to apply this guidance, take into account agency workers, contractors, staff on zero hours contracts, as well as your employees. Decisions on the phasing of a sector wide return for retail will be made in line with the Route Map. 

Business support

There has been an unprecedented package of support announced from both the Scottish and UK Governments to support businesses which includes retailers. This support should help many employers preserve their business, maintain jobs and pay their workers throughout this crisis. Information on this support is available through We urge all businesses to make use of this. In the event of closures for retail premises all available support measures must be utilised to protect the jobs and incomes of retail workers. 

Physical distancing

This guidance should be read in conjunction with our  business and physical distancing guidance.

Shopping centres

Shopping centres and retail parks should adhere to this and take cognisance of legal duties set out in the Business and Physical Distancing Regulations. This guidance applies to shopping centres and retail parks and further industry guidance is available in the related information section.

Phasing clarifications

Scotland's route map through and out of the crisis is continually updated. The Phase 2 Update sets out phasing for Phase 2 and further guidance will be published for Phase 3. The Route Map out of lockdown is the main source of information on phasing.  Some specific issues are clarified here however. For non-essential retail, if the customer entrance / exit(s) connects to an indoor space, such as an indoor shopping mall they are asked not to re-open until Phase 3, with the indicative date of 13 July announced. 

Betting shops reopened with the above provisions in Phase 2, with the use of chairs and televisions permitted on 22 July and gaming machines allowed back into use from 25 August. 

Hairdressing and barbering has been provided with an indicative date of 15 July 2020 to reopen. Mobile hairdressers are included in this definition. All of the services offered by hairdressers and barbers are subject to a risk assessment. Sunbed salons can re-open at the same time as hairdressers. 

Last updated: 9 July 2020



First published: 25 Aug 2020 Last updated: 25 Aug 2020 -