Publication - Advice and guidance

Coronavirus (COVID-19): tourism and hospitality sector

Guidance for the tourism and hospitality sector, including procedures for staff and customer safety and an operations checklist.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): tourism and hospitality sector


This guidance is for the tourism and hospitality sectors in Scotland. It remains in effect until further notice. It will be kept under review.  

If you are planning a visit to Scotland from overseas, please read the international travel guide.
Visitor information is available at 

We have worked with industry and trade unions to ensure that this guidance is evidence-based, fair and ethical, clear and realistic. We welcome the extensive work that organisations, trade bodies, industry groups and individual businesses have already undertaken. This work enables them to plan for safe workplaces through practical measures and guidelines aimed at ensuring the safety of staff, customers and the public is at the centre of operational plans for re-opening of these sectors. Stakeholders and trade bodies should review their material regularly against the latest Scottish Government guidance to ensure it is compliant with the core requirements.

The sectors covered by this guidance are diverse with broad reach across Scotland’s economic landscape, encompassing many thousands of businesses of varying models and size. It is therefore necessary for this guidance to take a strategic approach, but it is designed for use by:

  • all accommodation providers (hotels, B&Bs, self-catering, caravan/holiday parks etc. )
  • visitor attractions
  • marine and adventure tourism
  • other activity or experience tourism operations/centres
  • tour operators
  • pubs, cafes, restaurants and general hospitality
  • retail aspects of tourism
  • natural spaces insofar as they relate to tourism, such as the National Parks
  • funfairs and amusement parks (static and mobile)
  • licensed bingo clubs
  • casinos
  • guided walking tours

Guidance for wedding operators is also included in these pages – available in the specific section ‘wedding receptions’. There is however read-across to completing risk assessments for premises so this should be followed in conjunction with the section on ‘assessing risk’.

To help you decide which actions to take, you need to carry out an appropriate COVID-19 risk assessment, just as you would for other health and safety related hazards. The checklist provided should help you get started. This risk assessment should be undertaken in consultation with trade unions or workforce representatives where relevant. The key areas that you need to consider are outlined in each of the sections.

Many operators are members of trade bodies who, in turn, have developed helpful guidelines for their sectors to coordinate effort to help businesses be ready for re-opening. We have worked with the leading trade bodies and operators across the tourism and hospitality sector to link this work to Scottish Government guidance. You will find links to this in the related guidance section. We will continue to work in partnership with industry and unions, as the need arises, in order to update our guidance and in turn enable industry guidelines and practice to be adapted to keep pace.

This guidance should be applied to each business. You will need to translate this into the specific actions you need to take depending on the nature of your business (i.e. the size and type of business, how it is organised, operated, managed and regulated) using this document as a guide.

Publication of this guidance does not signal an immediate change in Scotland’s policy approach. Whether and when restrictions can be changed will be considered on a range of evidence on the progress of the pandemic in Scotland.  Changes will then be made in line with Scotland’s route-map through and out of the crisis and Scotland’s Strategic Framework .

Where we are now

The First Minister announced that Scotland would be entering its first lockdown on 23 March 2020. Since then we have experienced unlocking and new waves of infection, requiring fresh lockdowns and an evolution of measures to control the spread of the virus.

On 16 March 2021 the First Minister set out the next stage of Scotland’s exit strategy from lockdown, underpinned by Scotland’s Strategic Framework.  The revised levels tables were published on 13 April 2021.

The Strategic Framework

All sectors are invited to look at and become familiar with the Strategic Framework documentIt is vitally important that everyone follows the rules set out in the Strategic Framework and in the levels based approach. Understanding what the implications are for your business within each of the levels 0-4 will mean you can operate your premises or facilities in a compliant manner, or close them if that is what you are required to do. Please refer to the tables in the document that relate to your sector and follow the rules accordingly. 


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.


We have initiated a broad collaborative process to develop sectoral guidance which will underpin a managed transition through the current process. It will provide clarity and confidence to industry, employees and local communities, protect public health and concurrently optimise economic recovery. Aligned with that we have implemented Scotland’s Test and Protect system.

We are working with the UK Government to align our approach and guidance where possible, and on the basis of scientific evidence on the levels of infection in Scotland.

Business support

There has been an unprecedented package of support announced from both the Scottish and UK Governments to support businesses. This support has helped many employers preserve their business, maintain jobs and pay their workers throughout this crisis.

Information is available through


Central Enquiry Unit
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
Regent Road

First published: 16 Apr 2021 Last updated: 28 Jul 2021 -