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

Coronavirus (COVID-19): framework for decision making – Scotland’s route map through and out of the crisis was published on 21 May 2020. It set out a phased approach to exiting from the lockdown announced by the First Minister on 23 March 2020.

Inevitably, opening parts of our economy and society has provided new opportunities for the virus to spread and the Covid 19: Scotland's Strategic Framework was published on 23 October 2020, setting out how we will work 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 and tackle the four harms we know the virus causes.

This framework sets out new approach to outbreak management based on five levels of protection consisting of four levels above the Route Map Phase 3 baseline (or 'Level 0') as set out below:

Level 0 (baseline) and Level 1

Within these levels, we would expect to see low incidence of the virus with isolated clusters, and low community transmission. Broadly, these levels are the closest we can get to normality, without a vaccine or effective treatment in place, before conditions will allow us to move to Phase 4 of the Route Map. They would be similar to the measures in place during the summer, once we reached Phase 3. The Baseline and Level 1 are designed to be sustainable for longer periods.

All retail businesses and close contact services including mobile services will be able to operate in these levels. 

Levels 2-3

Within Levels 2 and 3, we would expect to see increased incidence of the virus, with multiple clusters and increased community transmission. There would be a graduated series of protective measures to tackle the virus, focusing on key areas of risk – broadly, indoor settings where household mixing takes place with less, or less well-observed, physical distancing and mitigations. The measures would be intended to be in place for relatively short periods (2-4 weeks), and only for as long as required to get the virus down to a low, sustainable level.

Retail businesses will be able to operate in Levels 2 and 3, as will close contact services that are delivered from a salon, shop or other static site, such as a home treatment room.

Mobile hairdressing and barbering can also continue in Levels 2 and 3.

All other mobile close contact services will not be able to operate in Levels 2 or 3.

Level 4

Within this level we would expect to see very high or rapidly increasing incidence, and widespread community transmission which may pose a threat to the NHS to cope. It is likely that this level would see the introduction of measures close to a return to full lockdown. Measures would be designed to be in place for a short period, to provide a short, sharp response to quickly suppress the virus.

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 document.

The safety of people – customers, employees and business owners – is the number one priority and we are working with retailers to ensure that people can still shop safely. Guided by the need to ensure shopping is safe, we want people to use their local high streets, towns and city centres, to ensure that crowding is avoided, that good hygiene measures are in place and that physical distancing is maintained at all times.

Essential retail will be able to remain open in Level 4.

Click and collect services for essential and non-essential retail and on-line retail can remain open. All other non-essential retail will be expected to close. 

All close contact services – static or mobile – will be closed. 

A full list of businesses that can remain open during Level 4 is in the Health Protection (Coronavirus)(Restrictions and Requirements) (Local Level) (Scotland) Regulations 2020.

A list of retailers which can stay open in level 4 can also be found in the question and answer section below under sub heading ‘the shopping experience’.

There is also information available on how tourism and hospitality businesses, including bars, restaurants and cafes, will operate within the Strategic Framework.

See guidance on Santa experiences.

Last updated: 27 November 2020



First published: 9 Nov 2020 Last updated: 9 Nov 2020 -