Publication - Advice and guidance

Coronavirus (COVID-19): tourism and hospitality sector guidance

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

Takeaways – no indoor entry

From Saturday 16 January 2021 in Level 4 lockdown areas, businesses primarily concerned with the service of food and drink takeaways can only offer the service on a no-indoor entry basis. This means that customers are not permitted to enter the inside of a premises to collect their purchase and that goods will need to be dispensed in a manner that meets this requirement. For example, this could be via the use of a service hatch, a non-internal counter such as a table across the threshold, or passed through a door. This measure is necessary to reduce the risk associated with people gathering in enclosed spaces (indoors) where the virus may spread more easily from person to person.

Who it applies to

The measure applies to those businesses in the hospitality and food and drink sector that are primarily operating a food and drink takeaway service. That means where food and drink takeaway forms the main part of the business and is not incidental to the wider business operation. This includes:

  • cafes (existing exclusions apply i.e. in a hospital or care home)
  • sandwich shops
  • pubs and bars that have adapted to offer takeaway food and drink
  • restaurants that have either adapted or as part of normal operating models offer takeaway food and drink
  • mainstream takeaway businesses, such as burger and chicken food to go premises, chip shops, International cuisine, pizza and kebab shops
  • bakery* and pasty shops that are predominantly focused on the sale of hot food and drink or sandwiches to go rather than providing a wider range of products as the main part of the business
  • all other food and drink to go premises that are predominantly concerned with takeaway food and drink as a the main part of the business

*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-indoor entry basis only.

The question of whether a business premises is predominantly providing a takeaway service, or is a bakery, corner shop etc. needs to be assessed taking account of the operation of the business as a whole over a day/week, recognising that there may be times of day when one aspect of the business is more prominent.

Practical changes

Many takeaway businesses are already operating on a no-indoor entry basis. For those, no changes are required. For others, the practical modifications required by each business will vary by each operating environment. Not all premises will have a service hatch but every premises has an entrance, either a door or shuttered threshold. It is for operators to determine the most appropriate method to allow them to meet the restriction but some examples may include:

  • use of a service hatch
  • use of a non-internal/makeshift counter, such as a table placed across the threshold
  • for those premises which open onto an enclosed space, such as a shopping centre concourse, use of barriers to narrow the entry to allow a takeaway counter to be created
  • passing goods to customers via the main, or relevant, door

Businesses will also need to consider adapting staff practices to service the requirement for customers to remain outside, such as how goods will be passed to the new service area and how payment will be taken.

Where operators offer pre-order, either via a website, an app, by text or by phone then they may wish to promote this service as a first preference in order to manage orders and the time customers may need to wait outside prior to collection, particularly in bad weather. Operators may also wish to further promote home delivery as an alternative option to collection in person.

Face coverings and screens

Businesses should revisit their arrangements for protecting staff and customers in light of this measure. Where protective screens have been installed previously at internal service areas it may be possible to move these to a new temporary service area. If not, then the need for face coverings becomes ever more important to create a barrier between customers and staff. 

Although not a legal requirement outdoors, customers should also demonstrate good practice and consideration for others by wearing a face covering when queuing and collecting takeaway orders and you may wish to reflect this in signage. Risk assessments should therefore be revised to take account of the no-indoor entry restriction.


Coronavirus spreads more easily when people are closer together. Any queues that form outside premises will continue to need to be carefully managed in order to keep customers safe and physically distanced. 

Takeaway businesses are already familiar with having to manage numbers and queues. Even prior to the no-indoor entry requirement it was only possible in most cases for a small number of customers to enter the premises at any one time. Businesses should nonetheless revisit their risk assessment on queues to ensure they are safely managed in light of the new requirement. This will be particularly important where takeaway premises are next to, or nearby, other essential premises where queues may also be forming at certain times of the day, such as a pharmacy.

Questions and answers

You can find questions and answers relating to takeaways - no indoor entry in the frequently asked questions page


Please refer to the Coronavirus safer public spaces guidance which offers suggestions of possible interventions to promote physical distancing in queues. 

Last updated: 15 January 2021


Central Enquiry Unit
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
Regent Road

First published: 15 Jan 2021 Last updated: 20 Jan 2021 -