Frequently asked questions
These questions and answers are aimed at providing further clarity to sector businesses following publication of Scottish Government sectoral guidance, and subsequent statutory guidance and additional measures for the hospitality sector, including those as a result of Scotland’s Strategic Framework. It is not separate to government guidance but designed to complement it and further the understanding of what businesses need to consider and do to ensure they are operating safely and within the legal requirements.
As we move through Scotland’sRoute Map, guidance is having to be regularly reviewed and updated. Government does not want to keep restrictions in place a moment longer than is necessary, but safety must come first. Businesses are therefore requested to maintain the excellent work that has been undertaken so far and to continue working with authorities to build on that progress.
We have prepared this in cooperation with Environmental Health Officers and industry. It will be updated as more information becomes available.
Remember – continue to record customer contact details to support Test and Protect (as of 14 August this is a mandatory requirement) and encourage staff and customers to download the Protect Scotland App.
Strategic Framework Levels Based Approach – from 2 November 2020
Q. Are premises that ordinarily only serve drinks (wet-bars) required to close by law?
A. If a premises does not have the facilities to provide the definition of a ‘main meal’ then they are required to close by law in levels 2 and 3 and can access the appropriate support for closed premises.
Q: I am the secretary of a local private member’s club. Are there any special rules which apply to me under the new Levels approach?
A: Member’s clubs are not treated differently in any respect. Members clubs are catered for in the regulations in the same way as other licensed premises, and must remain closed or only trade or take advantage of exemptions (such as takeaways) in such ways as other licensed premises are entitled to, depending on which level they fall under.
Q. I am a business which serves food and alcohol but shares a license with other operators on the wider premises – can I still operate for food service?
A. Yes, so long as you follow the rules regarding the service of alcohol.
Q. Do the same rules apply for limits on households mixing, face coverings, physical distancing, table service only and recording of customer contact details?
A. Yes, all pre-existing mitigating measures remain and should continue to be implemented. Read the current rules of limits for households mixing for each level.
Q. What happens if my local authority area moves to a different level?
A. If you are a hospitality premises in a Level 4 area you are required to close, bar for limited exceptions around life events. You should however keep up to date with developments in relation to levels reviews for your local authority area and ensure you understand the requirements of the level you are moving into. This may mean a relaxation of measures or a tightening of measures depending on the new level. Government will be clear about what date the new arrangements take effect. Check the local protection levels.
Q. For Level 4 areas, what is the position in regards to receptions for life events i.e. weddings and funerals?
A. Under level 4 arrangements wedding receptions are not possible. From Friday 8 January inclusive this will also extend to funeral wakes due to the additional measures that are necessary to deal with increasing transmission rates.
Q. What is the criteria for defining an outdoor structure from an indoors space?
A. It is understood that in the current context some premises may wish to move some operations outdoors in order to optimise trading opportunities where this is permitted i.e. Levels 0-2. This however must be done in accordance with the rules for what constitutes an outdoor space/structure. The intention of an outdoor covering is so to provide basic shelter from the elements and not to replicate the conditions for indoors. The structure should be at least 1.5 metres away from any other buildings or walls to allow adequate ventilation. It should also be at least 50% open i.e. not all sides enclosed. If in doubt operators should consult their local environment health teams for an assessment of any structure or advice prior to construction.
Q. For premises permitted to offer outdoor service for food and drink, can customers still use indoor welfare facilities?
A. Yes, welfare facilities can still be used as normal, within existing guidance for physical distancing and enhanced hygiene procedures.
Q. For premises permitted to offer outdoor service for food and drink can customers enter premises to place orders?
A. Premises should put in place processes and measures to ensure service is only provided outdoors. If it is necessary for orders to be placed at a designated indoor area, then this should be carefully managed with only one person entering at a time and with service then delivered to table outdoors. There should be no queueing or customers standing around internally waiting for service.
Q. Are premises that are permitted to open outdoors also able to serve food as well as alcohol?
A. Yes, food may also be served.
Q. For premises allowed to open does closing time mean doors closed with all customers departed or is there an eating/drinking up period?
A. Premises permitted to trade until the stipulated time must be closed by this time. Last entry times make allowance for last orders.
Q. Can premises offer alcohol as off-sales alongside food as takeaway or collection?
A. Yes, if they are already licensed to sell alcohol, and are complying with the terms of their license. Arrangements must be in place to ensure there is a clear and safe ordering system in place, observing rules on physical distancing, and that customers are not queuing in the premises.
Q. Can takeaways still deliver off-sales and can people still buy alcohol to consume in their own homes?
A. Yes, if this complies with their existing license.
Q. Is room service permitted in hotels, with or without alcohol?
A. Yes, room service can continue to be offered with alcohol, including mini-bar.
Q. Can people bring in alcohol from the supermarket to their hotel room?
A. Yes, people are free to consume alcohol in private in hotel rooms.
Q. Can hotels accept bookings for food from non-residents?
A. Yes, during operating hours for the relevant level and for residents 06:00 – 22:00 – without alcohol.
Q. Can catering facilities on site at holiday parks continue to provide meals for residents of those sites?
A. Yes. The same rules apply here as for hotel residents - during operating hours for the relevant level and for residents 06:00 – 22:00 – without alcohol.
Q. Can hotels serve residents who are using lodge accommodation in their restaurants?
A. Yes, these would be considered ‘residents’ for the purpose of providing meals (no alcohol)
Q. As a hospitality business I am offering takeaways, including alcohol, does the public drinking ban affect me in anyway?
A. No. You can still offer your service as before. You may be able to adapt outside space to assist with safe service and queuing. As per guidance however, you should be alert to any gatherings forming in the vicinity of your premises following an off-sale where purchases are being consumed outdoors in public. This will attract the attention of the authorities and other concerned members of the public. You should ensure staff are aware to look out for such behaviour, which is illegal.
Main meals and service of alcohol - definition and application of rules
Q. What constitutes a main meal?
A. A main meal would typically be something more than a mere snack - such as a plated meal, usually (though not necessarily) eaten with cutlery, and could include a substantial filled sandwich or panini served with a side such as salad or chips, or a “soup and a sandwich” style meal, as well as other more substantial meals which may have more than one course. A common-sense approach should be taken.
Q. Can I serve light snacks as a meal?
A. Crisps, nuts and similar “bar snacks” would not constitute a meal.
Q. What facilities do I need to meet the requirement to provide a ‘main meal’?
A. In order to provide bar meals you would need to have this activity (or “restaurant facilities”) within the operating plan of your premises licence. Your business premises would also have to be currently registered as a food business under Food Safety legislation and have appropriate certificates in place to cover kitchen or food preparation facilities. You would also have to have staff with the appropriate skills and training to provide this service. Read the business advice from Food Standards Scotland.
Q. Can external catering be used to supply meals?
A. Unless as part of arrangements providing a reception for a life event where catering services may be provided, then the food must be prepared on the premises i.e. bringing a meal in from a takeaway to facilitate the opening of a premises to serve alcohol does not qualify.
Q. How do I ensure I am meeting the requirement to only serve alcohol with a main meal?
A. Businesses should ensure that they communicate the requirement to serve alcohol [as ancillary to/with] a meal to customers as best they can. When customers arrive, it would be helpful to have staff manage expectations of customers as to the duration of potential alcohol consumption after the meal has concluded, and to underline that under the current Level Two requirements the consumption of alcohol is secondary to the consumption of the meal. It is expected that businesses will sensibly monitor the ordering and consumption of alcohol by their customers to ensure the requirement is met.
Q. Can I serve as many drinks as a customer wishes during and after a main meal?
A. It is anticipated that operators would serve alcohol responsibly in line with the licensing objectives. Scots licensing law confirms that the traditional drink served at the beginning, whilst waiting on the meal itself, is treated as part of the meal, along with drinks served whilst the meal is consumed, and within reason, some consumption (eg finishing a bottle of wine, or the taking of a postprandial digestif) after the immediate consumption of the meal has concluded.
Q. After the customer has consumed their meal can they stay on the premises and continue to order drinks?
A. Apart from reasonable finishing off (i.e. the remains of a bottle of wine) or the taking of a postprandial digestif – there should be no further service of alcohol. Consider alcohol as an accompaniment to the meal, not the meal as an accompaniment to the service of alcohol.
Q. Does the customer have to consume the main meal?
A. There may be genuine reasons why someone may not be able to finish the majority of a main meal that they have ordered, but there should be no attempt to frustrate the intention of the rules with the aim of making the consumption of alcohol the primary activity. It should be obvious to premises if services are not being used appropriately for meal service.
Q. Do all individuals have to purchase a main meal to be permitted to buy alcohol or can one person per table?
A. The service of alcohol is secondary to the service of a main meal. The service of alcohol should not be offered to anyone who has not ordered food. As previous question and answer, premises should intervene in any attempt to make the consumption of alcohol the primary activity.
Q. What about platter dishes or afternoon teas that are designed to be shared by more than one person – can alcohol be serve with these products?
A. Yes, it should be clear that what is being ordered constitutes a main meal even if being ordered by one person. The same approach applies, alcohol is secondary to the meal.
Food /to go
Q Is there a curfew for takeaway?
A. No restriction at any time.
Q. Can drive thru/collection operate?
A. Yes, no restriction at any time.
Q. What are people to do with perishable goods with such short notice?
A. If food or beverages are still suitable for consumption: establishments could consider alternatives ways to supply the items e.g. deliveries, takeaways or donations through redistribution schemes (if in line with licensing controls). Further information on surplus food redistribution options can be found on the Zero Waste Scotland website. If food or beverages are unfit for consumption and have to be discarded as waste: we’d encourage businesses to take all reasonable steps to manage this waste by prioritising recycling and recovery of waste over disposal. Further information is available from the Managing Our Waste website or businesses should contact their local waste operator for further advice.
SEPA has recently issued specific regulatory guidance on disposal of waste alcoholic beverages from licensed premises due to COVID-19. This can be found on SEPA’s website
Note – further advice regarding perishable foods can be found in the Food Standard Scotland website
Q. Collection for coffee – can this still be done in person?
Takeaways - no indoor entry
Q. I run a family bakery that offers hot food to takeaway alongside all other products – does this mean I must now only serve customers who are outside?
A. Bakers, butcher shops, convenience stores, newsagents and stand-alone service stations where any ready food and drink to go offering is incidental to the primary range of products on sale, such as breads, cold pies, pastries, meat and general groceries or fuel, may continue to operate under existing COVID safe protocols, ensuring key mitigating measures and physical distancing are fully observed by all entering the premises. If it is apparent the main activity is a ready food or drink takeaway service then this must be offered on a no-entry basis only.
Q. My bakery is busy first thing in the morning with “on the go” breakfasts, though my main business is still for traditional bakery fare. Do I need to close my door?
A. As above, if when looked at in the round your business is principally a bakery rather than a takeaway, the restrictions do not apply.
Q. Can I – a baker/corner shop – serve just a takeaway coffee to a customer if that is all they want?
A. Yes. Whether you are principally providing a takeaway service is not judged on the basis of an individual customer or transaction.
Q. What about food and drink to go businesses that operate from shopping malls or larger service stations that are arguably already indoors?
A. The measure applies to the individual premises, or in the case of a mall or service station the units within the precinct. Customers will therefore still not be permitted to enter the premises, or unit, to collect a takeaway purchase and the service must be on a no-entry basis.
Q. For delivery services from premises offering a takeaway, can the delivery staff still enter the premises?
A. Yes. For these purposes delivery staff are not going to the premise for the purchase of takeaway food so they are allowed to enter the premises, ensuring they are wearing their face covering when doing so. The purpose behind these measures is to reduce the need for consumers to go to premises and delivery achieves that.
Q. How does the no-entry measure apply to supermarket cafes that may be offering a takeaway service while currently closed for sit-in service?
A. Supermarkets can continue to offer a takeaway service from cafes. They should however revisit their risk assessments on queuing and service points based on their specific layout. Many supermarket cafes will have entry points that border the main exit thoroughfare from check-out areas. It would therefore not be appropriate to allow queues to develop at the very point where there is likely to be an increased flow of customers. Service points should therefore be situated in a place that avoids this scenario and where necessary the available space used within the closed sit-in area to manage queues in a safe and physically distanced manner.
Q. How does the no-entry measure apply to stand alone service stations that offer some food to go?
A. As takeaway food and drink is not the primary part of the business these services can be offered as they are at present, with existing mitigating measures in place.
Q. I am a brewer and run my retail arm through off sales, can I continue with sales by click and collect and “walk bys”.
A. Yes. You can still offer your service as before but subject to not allowing patrons inside your premises. Patrons should not consume alcohol purchased in public, purchases should be taken home.
Table service only
Q: There are parts of my premises where electronic payment cannot be taken at table due to poor signal for terminals – can customers leave their table to make payment at an appropriate point where a signal is available?
A: Yes, this is ok. It should only be the person making the payment and they must wear their face covering when not at table, observing physical distancing at all times.
Q: In premises such as cafes and quick service outlets, can orders still be made at counters, collected and consumed at tables before?
A: Yes, as long as physical distancing is observed, current covid safe practices in cafes and quick service food premises can still continue but all food must be consumed at table or taken off the premises
Limits for meeting others
Q: What are the new restrictions on meeting people at home?
A: Do not meet people from any other households in your home or another person’s home socially, unless they are in your extended household
These rules also apply to children
Children whose parents do not live in the same household can move between homes, as can non-cohabiting couples
Very limited exemptions apply for childcare, and for tradespeople
Q: Does this extend to hospitality?
A: No, in hospitality a maximum of 6 people from 2 households can still meet, with children under 12 exempt
Q: What do I need to do as a business to ensure this rule is being followed properly?
A: This is a legal requirement and every individual must follow the rules. As a business you should ensure your booking system is arranged so that it does not accept bookings that exceed these numbers. A simple step is to ensure staff who are taking calls for bookings are asking the right questions, including – is everyone from not more than 2 households? Are there any children under 12 from the same 2 households as these do not count towards the 6? Businesses should not accept bookings from groups that are clearly exceeding the limit.
Q: Can I take a booking for a birthday party where children from multiple households who are all under 12 will be there given they are exempt?
A: No, children under 12 are exempt from the maximum of 6 number but not from the maximum of 2 households – it must always be no more than 2 households regardless of the number of children under 12.
Q: I have forward bookings for groups of more than 6 people from 2 different households – what should I do?
A: It is the responsibility of individuals in the first instance to ensure they are following the rules so those who have made the booking should be in touch to discuss alternatives. If not you should review your bookings and where necessary make contact to discuss alternatives. This may mean a cancellation but may also be a rebooking for numbers that comply with the new rules. This will avoid difficult situations on arrival if no action has been taken as it will not be possible to accommodate groups who present for service who are above the limits.
Travel and accomodation
Visiting Scotland from other parts of the UK and Ireland
Under current Scottish regulations, unless you have a reasonable excuse, you must not travel between Scotland and England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Ireland. Find out more from Scottish Government travel between Scotland and the rest of the UK. Travelling for a holiday is not a reasonable excuse.
Q. Can people still go on planned domestic holidays?
A. Domestic holidays are still allowed, however there are some restrictions depends on the Level of the area that you live in. Those in Levels 0, 1 and 2 should only holiday within other areas at those levels, as holiday travel is not essential, and non-essential travel, including holiday and visitor travel into or out of levels 3 and 4 is not permitted. Those living in Level 3 areas can still use holiday accommodation in their own area.
Q. Can people still go on day trips, and to visitor attractions?
A. Yes, but there are restrictions on travel, based on the Level you are in, that affect this. Those in Levels 0, 1 and 2 should only take trips and visit attractions, that are in locations within these same levels, as leisure visits are not essential, and non-essential travel, including leisure travel into or out of levels 3 and 4 is not permitted. Those living in Level 3 areas can still take day trips and visit attractions in their own area. Visitor attractions are closed in Level 4 areas.
If taking a day trip or visiting an attraction you should keep to the rules on household mixing, physical distancing, and hygiene at all times.
Q What are the new restrictions for the accommodation sector?
A. Accommodation (Hotels, B&Bs, Self-catering, Caravan and Camp Sites), are open in levels 0-2 with socialising and hospitality rules applicable. They are open in Level 3 with same socialising and hospitality rules but guidance that advises non-essential (leisure/tourism) use only by locals applies. Essential, e.g. work-related use can continue. In level 4 essential only, e.g. work-related (No tourism) socialising and hospitality rules apply.
Q: Can I take new accommodation bookings.
A. You should only take new bookings that are in line with the travel restrictions. In Level 0, 1 and 2 this means that you can take bookings from guests coming from areas that are in the same levels. In Level 3 you should only take bookings from those within your own area. In Level 4 visitor accommodation is closed. There are exceptions for essential purposes, e.g. work, which allow accommodation to open in level 4 and travel between level 0, 1 and 2, and levels 3 and 4.
Q. I am an accommodation provider. I have forward bookings. What about these?
A. Where a booking is no longer in line with travel advice we continue to expect the industry to abide by the standards of good practice we have seen so far through the pandemic, and follow the CMA guidance with regard to refunds, cancellations, and rescheduling. In line with CMA guidance, a full refund should be offered to customers who booked holiday homes but could not stay in them due to lockdown restrictions. The Scottish Government recognises the difficult position that many holiday companies will find themselves in at present. The regulation of consumer protection is the responsibility of the UK Government at Westminster. The Competition and Markets Authority have issued guidance to businesses and consumers about refunds.
Q. What are the rules for campsites/caravan parks and other accommodation types?
A. We recognise that there are many different types of visitor accommodation available. The same rules apply to all types of accommodation, whether a campsite, yurt, railway carriage, treehouse or castle.
Q. Can workers from more than one household stay in self-catering accommodation?
Certain sectors of the economy such as forestry, construction and digital connectivity are reliant on shared self-catering accommodation for work purposes. While the recommended position is for individual, self-contained accommodation for each employee, given the risks of transmission within shared accommodation, it is recognised that this is not always feasible. Therefore, the exemption whereby workers share accommodation should only be applied where the following conditions apply:
- circumstances necessitating individuals to stay in shared self-catering accommodation for work purposes is defined as work which requires a physical presence in a location away from home (where the distance is such that it is not feasible to commute) and the work itself cannot be done on a virtual basis and should only be for the length of time required for work to take place and separate accommodation is unavailable or impractical.
- where assurance has been provided that accommodation providers and workers will comply with physical distancing and public health guidance to mitigate risk (set out below).
Special consideration should also be given to situations where a worker may be vulnerable and / or unwilling to share accommodation due to risk of COVID-19 transmission and efforts made to find suitable alternative accommodation which meets their needs.
When separate accommodation units cannot be provided and where workers are willing to share, the following guidance and mitigations should be followed:
- households should be limited in size to ensure that workers can access kitchens, cleaning and washing facilities and other shared spaces while maintaining physical distancing guidelines.
- employers and accommodation providers should conduct individual risk assessments, to ensure that there is sufficient capacity within a shared accommodation unit to ensure that users have separate bedrooms and the ability to occupy shared areas such as kitchens and toilets on their own and then clean them afterwards. Individual risk assessment should ensure that these are of such a number that each user will have the time to occupy and use these spaces on their own and then clean them afterwards, given that at high demand times such as mornings, evenings and mealtimes such facilities will be in particular demand.
- workers sharing self-catering accommodation should have their own bedrooms and should adhere to physical distancing.
- shared bathrooms and kitchens present one of the biggest risks for increased spread of the virus. Workers should be given the appropriate resources and instruction on how to keep shared areas clean and ventilated.
- residents should also be advised to use shared rooms one at a time with cleaning and ventilation in between (e.g. preparing and eating a meal).
- where communal toilets are available outside of households and could be used more widely, providers should implement measures to decrease this risk as far as possible in line with guidance on the reopening or public and customer toilets
- this should include increased cleaning and may include reducing access to a one in, one out basis. Cleaning materials should be provided for users to ‘clean as they go’.
Q: What about guests from other parts of the Uk and overseas? Can they stay in my accommodation?
A: Once in a location people are expected to abide by the local rules in the place they are staying, but to prevent transmission of the virus between areas with different levels of prevalence we now have travel restrictions which impact on the holiday and visitor sector. You should ensure that you only take bookings that accord with these travel restrictions. The restrictions allow for transit across higher prevalence areas. This mean that overseas visitors may transit through areas to get from a travel hub (for example an airport) to accommodation elsewhere. Care should be taken when doing this.
Where rules differ in other UK nations and overseas, people must follow relevant local travel restrictions and are urged to think hard about the public health implications, and if travelling outside the UK, the potential quarantine implications.
Q: Can two families stay in adjacent self catering properties?
A: Yes, two families could stay in two adjacent self-catering cottages as these are two houses.
Q: If I am a self-catering operator and offer to give breakfast, could I then have two households?
A: No, not if this is in one house. It should be one household. This would clearly be a contrivance to circumvent the rules. It is a legal requirement to follow the rules. We expect this to happen and people to be sensible.
Q: I run a yacht charter business. Can I still operate?
A: Any accommodation, regardless of format, that is used to for overnight accommodation on a self-catering basis, is treated as a private dwelling, for the purpose of these regulations, and therefore covered by the one household, to one house rule. This includes boats. You can continue to operate within the one household one house limit.
Q. I am an operator providing accommodation for essential workers – is there specific guidance I need to follow?
Face coverings in hospitality
Q: What is meant by ‘when seated and during service’ – does this mean people have to wear a face covering if not actually eating food or drinking?
A: No, once seated at a table people can remove their face covering. The intention is to mitigate the risks where it may be more difficult to keep physically distanced from others such as when entering, exiting and moving around a premises i.e. using the bathroom.
Q: What if customers are not complying with the rules – what should I do?
A: The responsibility is, in the first instance, on the individual to follow the rules. You should offer advice to customers to follow the rules and use the available resources from government to display key messages for hospitality on the premises. If non-compliance is deliberate and persistent you may wish to refuse service. Everyone is expected to play their part to ensure risk is kept to a minimum and help keep businesses open.
Q: The rules say staff are now required to wear face coverings – does this mean every member of staff?
A: Public facing, front of house staff are required to wear face coverings. Staff whilst in any communal indoor area must wear a face covering. There is an exemption for staff who are more than 2 metres away from the public/colleagues or they are behind a suitable partition.
Q: if a customer claims to be exempt from wearing a face covering for health reasons should we ask for proof?
A: There are certain exemptions from wearing face coverings – if a customer claims to be in this group you should accept their explanation. Other systems are being considered to help with this process and further advice will be provided in due course.
Q: Does the exemption from 2m to 1m physical distancing in bars and restaurants also apply to staff only areas such as kitchens and, if so, what mitigation measures are required?
A: The exemption applies across the premises. The legislation requires that businesses take all reasonable measures to ensure that physical distancing is maintained. A risk assessment should be undertaken to ensure that suitable controls are implemented. These issues should be discussed with employees as detailed in the Scottish Government sectoral guidance .
Q: I want my business to operate with physical distancing of less than 2m, what do I need to do?
A: In order for the physical distancing requirement to be reduced to 1m businesses must be able to demonstrate that they have implemented additional mitigation measures over and above what would be required to operate at 2m to minimise risk. The additional measures must be in place prior to the distancing requirement being reduced. We have published guidance to help you carry out the necessary risk assessment. As a reminder, the legislation requires that businesses take all reasonable measures to ensure that physical distancing is maintained.
Q: Would this apply to my external area too?
A: Yes, provided that similar additional control measures are in place within the external area.
Q: What kind of additional mitigation measures would be acceptable?
A: By carrying out a new risk assessment process you, as a business, will be able to identify additional mitigation measures that can be applied to your premises. The focus must be how you ensure 1m physical distancing is maintained in all areas, as well as additional protections for staff. Examples of measures that would be deemed to be acceptable include:
- increasing the frequency of air changes within the ventilation system and open windows/doors where possible
- review layouts, including installation of physical barriers (Perspex screens etc.) where 1m physical distancing cannot be met
- face coverings for front of house staff (mandatory)
- requiring customers to remain seated whilst on premises with no standing at bar areas
- enhanced cleaning arrangements (require to be documented)
The above list is not exhaustive. A number of the measures above may need to be combined, depending upon individual premises. The decision-making process should be documented and retained on site.
Q: Can my customers queue at the bar?
A: There should be no queueing at bar areas. Though table service is the preferred model at this time, where processes require customers to order at the bar only one individual should approach order points at a time to avoid the forming of queues. You will need to develop systems to ensure there is no queueing at the bar. Customers who are served at the bar should be directed to return to their seat and not to drink at the bar.
Q. Can my customers queue for to use toilet facilities?
A. Yes. Toilet facilities must be managed carefully and it is recognised that this may require at times the need for customers to queue in a physically distanced and orderly manner to allow facilities to be used safely. Space should be identified for this away from seated areas that can ensure physical distancing and that do not encroach on passage ways. Customers should be wearing face coverings when not seated.
Q: What measures should I put in place to make sure that customers queue safely outside my premises?
A: If necessary, external queuing should be organised in a way that facilitates physical distancing. The use of markers either on the wall or ground identifying where an individual should stand is encouraged. Where family groups are waiting together they should try not to encroach on others within the queue. It may be necessary that family groups take up two spaces within the queue to ensure sufficient distance is maintained from others.
Should queuing become problematic and block the footpaths or cross neighbouring premises consideration will need to be given to the implementation of an alternative arrangement for example; taking a contact number and calling when a table is available.
The maximum number of people attending in groups should be in accordance with the Scottish Government guidance.
Q: My restaurant has booth seating in place. Can I safely use all of them or do I need to alternate their occupancy to maintain distancing?
A: Where booth seating is fixed and individuals from different parties are seated back to back there is no need to alternate occupancy. It may be necessary to modify the height of the seat backs to above head height, this will provide additional screening. Movement within premises should be minimal and customers should adhere to government guidelines on physical distancing and respiratory etiquette whilst on the premises.
Q: I have put in additional mitigation measures necessary to reduce physical distancing in my premises to 1m. Is it possible to have tables located at 1m apart provided that customers are seated back to back or do I require to put in screening?
A: Where possible some form of separation should be put in place, this could be in the form of a screen or a planter. The purpose of this being to prevent one table encroaching into the space of another. Another alternative would be to increase the distance between tables to 1.5m which will allow for the customers to move in and out of their seats without bothering neighbouring tables.
Where installing physical separation measures, such as screens, care should be taken to ensure that these items do not become a hazard in themselves. Screens should be securely fixed in place to ensure that they cannot fall over. Where fixing items to the floor these should not present a trip hazard. It is also very important to ensure that emergency exits and escape routes are kept clear and free from obstruction.
Q: Do I need to display a sign notifying customers they are entering a 1m physical distancing zone?
A: Yes, this should be displayed clearly at entry points and throughout the premises – signage should state that "this is a 1 metre physical distancing zone – follow the advice of staff and observe physical distancing”
Q: My premises covers multiple floors. Can I have one floor where 2m distancing is maintained and the other with 1m?
A: This is possible as long as the appropriate measures are taken in line with guidance for operating at either 2m or with the 1m exemption.
Q: If I am modifying my premises to include screens, how high do these have to be?
A: There is no minimum height required, however, when installing consideration should be given to whether customers will be seated or standing in the areas where the screens are to be located. The installation of a screen is to act as a physical barrier between individuals therefore it is important to ensure that it will extend to a sufficient distance in all directions. Where the installation is in addition to additional mitigation measures (facial coverings, visors for staff etc.) it may be that smaller screens can be installed.
It is strongly advised that the decision making process be documented.
Q: Do I need to reduce the number of toilets/urinals in use within my premises?
A: The provision and use of sanitary facilities within your premises will require to be risk assessed.
If, as a business, you wish to retain use of all urinals within the premises the following requires to be in place and evidence available to demonstrate the steps are in place;
- increasing the number and frequency of air changes in the ventilation system
- enhanced programme of cleaning and replenishment
- regular monitoring of capacity within toilet facilities
- where 1m cannot be maintained then screens should be provided
In all other circumstances physical distancing must be maintained.
Q: The toilet cubicles within my premises have full height partitions and mechanical ventilation – can these continue to be used as normal or do I need to close some off?
A: Where cubicles are fully enclosed and there are sufficient air changes per hour they can continue to be used as normal provided that there are enhanced cleaning arrangements in place.
Sport and entertainment
As of 14 August 2020 background music and sound from TVs is not permitted as a precautionary measure to reduce noise levels and prevent the raising of voices. This measure is being kept under review and further updates will be provided in due course.
Q. Can hospitality premises in Levels 0-1 still offer pool, darts and gaming machines? ?
A. Yes, these services can still be offered at Levels 0-1 but must be managed within the current guidelines i.e. face coverings, enhanced hygiene, physical distancing, no crowding or encroaching on thoroughfares and no food or drink may be consumed when not seated at a table. Where any of these conditions cannot be met then these services should be withdrawn.
Q. Can hospitality premises in Levels 2-3 still offer pool, darts and gaming machines?
A. As previously, the operability of pool and gaming machines is linked to the status of related premises where these services are a primary activity i.e. pool/snooker halls and amusement arcades. Therefore:
Level 2 – amusement arcades open – gaming machines permitted in hospitality (subject to risk assessment and robust hygiene arrangements
Level 2 – snooker/pool halls closed – pool in hospitality not permitted
Level 3 – amusement arcades-snooker/pool halls closed – gaming machines and pool not permitted in hospitality
Due to the need to keep customers seated for non-essential purposes in hospitality, premises should refrain from offering darts in levels 2-3.
Q. Can customers still use gaming machines within premises where only outdoor areas are still open ?
A. No, the intention is to ensure people are not using indoor premises during restricted hours to reduce the risk of transmission – this would be incompatible with the policy intent.
Q. Can hospitality premises in Levels 0-3 show TV broadcasts, including live sports?
A. Hospitality premises may still show TV broadcasts (without sound) during opening hours but operators must fully risk assess any high profile broadcast that may have the potential to increase the risk of crowding and breaking down of physical distancing protocols. For example, a live sports broadcast must not be planned and or promoted as an event to draw in customers for the sole purpose of watching it on TV. Experience shows this is high risk in the current context and should be avoided at the outset.
Q: Are customers allowed to play games likes dominoes and darts?
A: Darts may be played if there is a dedicated space for play away from thoroughfares at Levels 0-1 i.e. separate room, and where there is adequate space to ensure physical distancing along with risk assessed robust cleaning procedures, with no sharing of darts. Where this is not possible then it will be necessary to refrain from darts play at this time. At Levels 2-3 darts should not be played. Dominoes is also not possible at this time at any level. Proximity of players and the need for sharing of game pieces makes this activity too high risk
Q: We are famous for our quiz night, can we still host this?
A: Absolutely, although it may need to take a different form than before. For example, picture rounds could be shown on the television rather than providing teams with a sheet, participants encouraged to bring their own pen and papers returned at the end of the quiz rather than at the end of each round as this will reduce the need for customers to move around the premises.
Q: We have a selection of books and toys available for children to use whilst on the premises. Can we no longer offer these?
A: There is no requirement for children under 12 to physically distance from one another, however, objects such as toys and books could present a vector for infection, therefor provision of such items is discouraged. As an alternative, colouring sheets, pencils or crayons could be made available on request. Where toys are to be made available it is recommended that these be made of plastic or other readily cleanable materials and that they be included on the cleaning schedule for the premises.
Q: My business is operating with an extended external area, can we bring in a DJ to play music within this area?
A: It is not possible for this sort of outdoor event to take place at this time. Further advice will be available as Scotland’s route map develops.
Q: Under normal circumstances we are an events venue, however we have been operating our external events spaces as a beer garden since restrictions were eased. Can we continue to use this space as a beer garden Monday to Thursday but host live outdoor events at the weekend with the relevant distancing in place?
A: You must follow the relevant guidance for the intended use of the space – for a beer garden this is hospitality guidance, for and event then events guidance must be followed. It cannot be a combination of both i.e. run an event at 1m physical distancing. You should consult your local environmental health team prior to staging a live outdoor event to ensure it is suitable for the local conditions and ensure it is permitted for the level you are in as this may have changed.
Q: Are we allowed to host a silent disco (day or night) where customers wear headphones to participate?
A: Stand up events are not possible in hospitality - limited seated adaptations of these types of activities have resulted in singing and shouting in premises, and physical distancing not being observed, which present an increased transmission risk. It is therefore not recommended to offer these limited sit down activities at this time.
Test and Protect
Q: Test and Protect – should I be retaining the contact details of individuals who visit my premises for business reasons e.g. trades people, environmental health staff, etc.?
A: Yes, where an individual is on the premises for any length of time they should be asked to provide details in the event that they are required for contact tracing purposes
Q: We have put in Perspex screens between booth seating, does this prevent customers from being identified as a close contact in the event a positive case has been on the premises?
A: The provision of mitigations such as Perspex panels will be taken into consideration during the risk assessment undertaken by the contact tracer. We cannot give absolute guarantees of exemption from a request to self-isolate but mitigations are taken into account.
Q: How long does a person have to be on my premises before I am required to take their details for Test and Protect?
A: Contact details must be taken from customers and visitors on arrival regardless of how long they are on the premises.
Q: Where a waiter is serving a table over the course of their time in a restaurant and frequents the table on a number of occasions for less than 1 minute per time, would they still be considered a close contact for tracing purposes?
A: Any amount of face-to-face contact makes it possible for someone to be identified as a close contact, however the wearing of face coverings and other mitigations being implemented are considered by contact tracers when risk assessing potential virus exposure and any requests to self-isolate which follow.
Q: Who is eligible to ask for the Test and Protect information? Can I provide this to Environmental Health Officers?
A: Information can be provided to Environmental Health staff where they are undertaking an investigation into a confirmed case or cluster associated with the premises. Where information is provided this will be passed to the Test and Protect team for contact tracing purposes and not retained by the Local Authority.
It is not anticipated that Environmental Health staff would request this information outside of an investigation other than check details to ensure compliance with the legal requirement.
Q: What details should I retain for Test and Protect purposes?
A: Information that requires to be retained for customers and visitors:
- name of each customer, or when customers are attending as a small household group, the contact details for one member of that household group – a ‘lead member’
- a contact phone number for each customer, or for the ‘lead member’ of a small household group
- date of visit, arrival and where possible, departure time
For larger establishments, and where possible, it is also helpful to record table numbers of sections where customers were seated
Q: What should I do if become aware or either a customer or member of staff testing positive for COVID?
A: In the first instance call your local environmental health or health protection team for advice. The Test and Protect team will be in contact with the individuals and will escalate should it be necessary.
Date last updated: 15 January 2021
Central Enquiry Unit
Phone: 0300 244 4000
The Scottish Government
St Andrews House