Publication - Advice and guidance

Coronavirus (COVID-19): safer public spaces - updated guidance

Guidance focused on design principles for safer urban centres and green spaces in Scotland during the coronavirus crisis. It contains information and examples of interventions that may be undertaken by owners and operators of public spaces to keep people safe.

63 page PDF

12.2 MB

63 page PDF

12.2 MB

Coronavirus (COVID-19): safer public spaces - updated guidance
2. Principles for safe urban centres and green spaces

63 page PDF

12.2 MB

2. Principles for safe urban centres and green spaces

Owners and operators of public places should take into account the latest advice on physical distancing from the Scottish Government when identifying key issues in urban centres and green spaces.

Guidance on physical distancing, face coverings, cleaning and communications can be found below.

2.1 Physical distancing

The Scottish Government advises maintaining 2 metres (6ft) distance from others (outside of your immediate household) to reduce the risk of transmission of coronavirus. Where physical distancing is not possible, owners and operators as well as the general public, are advised to do everything they can to reasonably reduce the risk.

The Scottish Government will allow, in a limited number of sectors, an exception to be made to the requirement for 2 metre physical distancing, however this is subject to strict conditions tailored to the circumstances of each sector. These sectors include retail, hospitality and public transport. It is stressed, however, that the general rule remains 2 metres.

Physical distancing duties are set out in Regulation 4(1) of the Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Restrictions) (Scotland) Regulations 2020. The regulations were updated on 10 July 2020 to reflect the move from 2 metres to 1 metre physical distancing in certain sectors.

Updated Scottish Government guidance on physical distancing is contained within 'Coronavirus (COVID-19) Phase 3: staying safe and protecting others'

'Coronavirus (COVID-19): returning to work safely' guidance was published on 31 August 2020.

Links to further guidance can be found in the Appendix.

2.2 Protecting people who are at higher risk

The aim of shielding is to protect people who are at greatest risk of severe illness if they catch COVID-19. However, the Scottish Government recognises that asking people to stay at home and minimise all contact with others for a long period of time can significantly impact on quality of life as well as mental and physical health.

There is advice for individuals who have been shielding and for care homes. The guidance indicates, depending on individual circumstances, those for whom some of this advice may not be suitable.

2.3 Self-isolating

'Test and Protect' is Scotland's approach to implementing the 'test, trace, isolate, support' strategy. It is a public health measure designed to break chains of transmission of COVID-19 in the community. As part of this individuals will be asked to self-isolate at home for 10 days if they have symptoms of COVID-19 or have tested positive for it. If an individual lives with someone who has symptoms or has tested positive, or if you they been in close contact with someone who has tested positive, they will be asked to self-isolate at home for 14 days.

Individuals can also download the Protect Scotland contact tracing app.

2.4 Addressing the needs of disabled people

The Mobility and Access Committee for Scotland (MACS) is an advisory non-departmental public body which considers matters about the needs of disabled persons in connection with transport and advises the Scottish Ministers on such. MACS has recently produced 'Transport Transition Plans - guidance to operators on assisting disabled passengers' and also guidance on 'Temporary Street Measures during the Coronavirus Crisis'. The guidance makes it clear that it is essential that the impacts upon disabled people (including people who have difficulty walking, wheelchair users, people with cognitive impairments, including dementia, autism etc. and people with sensory impairments) are considered. Links to this specific guidance and to the wider work of MACS are located in the Appendix. It is vitally important to remember, as highlighted by the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB), that not all disabilities, including sight loss, are visible.

Bear in mind that some people - for example those with sight loss, autism, learning disabilities, dementia or other communication or mobility needs - may find physical distancing rules more difficult to follow than others.

2.5 Wider Public Health Benefits

The guidance contained in this document is aimed at supporting people to return safely to public spaces whilst maintaining physical distancing. The careful consideration of how measures to support physical distancing are implemented also has the potential to impact positively on wider determinants of health and wellbeing and on health inequalities.

Therefore, wherever possible interventions to support physical distancing should also aim to take advantage of co-benefits for issues such as physical activity and alleviating isolation and loneliness for vulnerable groups.

In particular, interventions should aim to address the needs of specific population groups for whom both the impact of COVID-19 and restrictions have presented additional or different challenges, such as communities living in disadvantage or disabled people.

2.6 Volunteering

We know that many people are also keen to return to, or contribute to, volunteering. Organisations have a duty of care to volunteers, to ensure, as far as is reasonably practicable, that they are not exposed to risks to their health and safety. They will therefore need to take a risk-based approach to the restarting of services. Volunteer Scotland provides practical guidance to minimise the impact of COVID-19 on the health and wellbeing of volunteers, as well as those for whom, and with whom, they volunteer.

2.7 Public events and mass gatherings

Please check the Scottish Government guidance for the events sector on safe re-opening during the coronavirus pandemic.

EventScotland is working with the events sector to support sharing of good practice. It is also working to develop case studies and other content to help event organisers see how the guidance can be implemented in practice. Local guidance on whether mass gatherings are allowed should be followed.

2.8 Face coverings

Physical distancing, hand hygiene and respiratory hygiene are the most important and effective things we can all do to prevent the spread of coronavirus. The wearing of face coverings must not be used as an alternative to any of these other precautions.

People must by law wear a face covering in shops, on public transport and public transport premises such as railway and bus stations and airports, and in certain other indoor public places such as shops, restaurants (when not seated), libraries and places of worship.

It should be remembered that some people are exempted from wearing face masks, for instance, some disabled people where because of their disability it is not possible for them to wear a face mask. We ask for people to be aware of the exemptions and to treat each other with kindness.

There is no evidence to suggest there might be a benefit outdoors from wearing a face covering unless in a crowded situation.

2.9 Cleaning

Owners and operators are advised to implement cleaning protocols to limit coronavirus transmission in public places. It is advised that touch points (e.g. handrails and gates) should be particular areas of focus for increased cleaning. Links to further guidance can be found in the Appendix.

2.10 Hygiene - hand washing, sanitation facilities and toilets

Objective: To ensure that toilets are kept open and to promote good hygiene, physical distancing, and cleanliness in toilet facilities

Public toilets, portable toilets and toilets inside premises should be kept open and carefully managed to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19.

The Scottish Government guidance on opening public and customer toilets should be followed.

The hygiene measures on which this guidance provides advice are:

The impact of COVID-19 has led to widespread behavioural change and there is likely to be higher demand for sanitation facilities in outdoor settings. Consideration should be given to the opportunities to provide sanitation facilities for long term use.