Publication - Advice and guidance

Coronavirus (COVID-19): returning to work safely

Guidance for workers and employers on returning to work safely during the coronavirus pandemic.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): returning to work safely


As outlined in our route map we are taking a phased approach to easing lockdown measures to reduce the risk of increasing the transmission of the virus. That phased approach applies to businesses and sectors in the economy restarting operations.

In this public health crisis, it is vital that all businesses act responsibly and align fully with the physical distancing measures introduced to protect the nation’s heath, well-being and economic future. 

We recognise this continues to be a very testing time for business in Scotland.  We are grateful to the many companies that are being responsible by actively supporting homeworking and allowing staff the time off for isolation. 

With the exception of the organisations detailed in the section below on closing certain businesses and venues, the government is not compelling other businesses to close – indeed it is important for some businesses to carry on.

As set out in Coronavirus (COVID-19): staying safe and protecting others: people can travel to and from work, though remote working should remain the default position for those who can.

All business workplaces that are not being specifically required to close should consider a set of key questions – and at all times work on the precautionary basis:

  • is what you do essential or material to the effort against the virus or to the wellbeing of society?
  • is your business able to open in accordance with the current position in the Scotland's Route Map?
  • are you able to demonstrate and give confidence to your workforce that you can consistently practice safe physical distancing and comply with ALL other standard health and safety requirements

Essential services are the fundamental services that underpin daily life and ensure the country continues to function. There are 13 designated Critical National Infrastructure (CNI) sectors (including food production, energy and transport,) but not everything within a national infrastructure sector is 'critical'.  

Even where businesses are in the CNI category and judge themselves to be exempt from closure of business premises, not all of their operations may count as essential.

First published: 31 Aug 2020 Last updated: 31 Aug 2020 -