Coronavirus (COVID-19): Route Map - supporting evidence for the 10 September 2020 review

Supporting evidence to inform decisions about timings of changes within Phase 3 as set out at the review point on 10 September 2020.

WHO criterion 4: Preventive measures are established in workplaces, with physical distancing, handwashing facilities and respiratory etiquette in place, and potentially thermal monitoring.

We have been clear that our economic restart must be achieved safely and must be built around three pillars:

  • Successful measures to suppress the virus;
  • Guidance that promotes Fair and Safe workplaces and sectors; and
  • The right structures for workplace regulation.

Legislation and Regulation

Employers have a statutory duty under Occupational Health and Safety legislation, which is reserved to the UK Government. The regulatory authority is the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). The HSE has reinterpreted the Health and Safety and Work Act 1974 to recognise that infection by the SARS-Cov-2 virus is an occupational risk and that employers must undertake a risk assessment for transmission and put in place appropriate mitigations, such as physical distancing. For those not covered by HSE, the enforcing authority is local authority Environmental Health, acting under HSE guidance.

Workplaces are required to achieve physical distancing under the emergency lockdown regulations. Again the enforcing authority is local authority (Environmental Health and Trading Standards). Local authority officers can take action on either basis, depending on circumstances. Their approach is currently based on Engage, Explain, Encourage, Enforce (the 4 Es), so they seek to obtain compliance voluntarily where they can.

Scottish Ministers have the power under regulation 4A(1) of the Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Restrictions) (Scotland) Regulations 2020 ("the Regulations"), to issue guidance on measures which should be taken in order to minimise the risk of the incidence and spread of coronavirus.

Statutory guidance published on 14 August 2020 has been issued under this regulation. Businesses operating in the hospitality sector are required by law to have regard to this. Failure to have regard to its terms is a matter likely to be taken into account should it become necessary to take enforcement action under public health legislation.

Under regulation 4ZA of the Regulations, the recording of customer/visitor contact details is now mandatory and must be implemented in all hospitality settings.

Under Schedule 19 of the Coronavirus Act, Scottish Ministers have now passed on direction-making powers directly to local authorities. The new regulations allow an officer nominated by a Local Authority to give directions relating to specified premises, events and public outdoor places within that Local Authority area.

The legislative requirement for the wearing of face coverings was extended further on 24 August 2020 to encompass a number of businesses which have recently reopened. For example, bingo halls, bowling alleys and casinos.

Officials continue to work with the wider health and safety community in Scotland, and specifically with Healthy Working Lives and Scottish Hazards around extending access to trustworthy information and advice on addressing the COVID-19 threat in the workplace, particularly for SMEs and for employees with concerns. A Healthy Working Lives mentoring network has been set up, providing an opportunity for professionals to provide peer support on a voluntary basis, in both the preparation required before returning to work and how to continue to work safely once returned to work during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Scottish Government has issued a joint statement with HSE, local authorities and Police Scotland that sets out the importance of safe working, of the role of the regulators and the importance of engaging the workforce and trades unions in undertaking risk assessments and putting in place means of safe working.

Officials are also working with a wide range of stakeholders, including, trades unions, Local Authorities and the Health and Safety Executive to consider ways to assure workers and the public that businesses are operating safely in accordance with guidance and regulations. Potential assurance options include building extra capacity within Local Authorities to check businesses are taking steps to implement guidance and regulations.


We have been working with business and industry organisation and trades unions to develop sectoral guidance on safe working. This is in addition to workplace guidance which has been developed by the UK Government and HSE. There are many examples of good practice which are being shared within and across sectors, particularly from essential businesses who have been operating throughout lockdown.

We have already produced and updated guidance across around 30 sectors including retail, manufacturing, construction, forestry and environmental management, food and drink, transport, culture, waste and recycling, parts of agriculture, energy, house moving, libraries, small and micro businesses, professional sports, research and labs, creative industries, safer public places, live drive-in events, telecommunications, call/contact centres, tourism and hospitality, indoor sport and leisure, technology, driving lessons, performing arts & venues and general safer workplaces guidance for organisations not covered by sectoral guidance, such as offices. Guidance for soft play areas and community centres is currently under development.

We have updated existing guidance following changes to policy in relation to physical distancing in hospitality, retail and transport, to ensure that workplaces are supported to implement these changes. We have extended the list of indoor public premises where it is mandatory for people to wear face coverings and updated the face covering guidance to reflect latest public health advice. We are also strengthening and updating sectoral guidance based on feedback from regulators.

Updated customer guidance for tourism and hospitality sectors has also been published. It reinforces key health protection measures such as physical distancing requirements, limits on households mixing and providing contact details for test and protect.

Due to the low efficacy rate of temperature checking, the Scottish Government is not recommending this method as a means of testing employees for COVID-19. This advice has now been included within the sectoral guidance.

Non-essential offices working group

As a first step in developing a safe, sustainable, fair and balanced transition for Scotland's cities and town, workers and workplaces, the Scottish Government is also working collaboratively with the Scottish Chambers of Commerce and the STUC to plan for a safe, phased re-opening of non-essential offices and to inform route-map review decisions. Meetings have been held since 3 September.

Noise control measures in hospitality

Additional statutory guidance for the hospitality sector has been published. It stated that for noise control purposes there should be no background music and televisions must be on mute and sub-titled. This issue has been explored in further detail through the development of an expert group led by the Scottish Government.

Home working and Fair Work

While many workplaces are re-opening our message remains that organisations should make every reasonable effort to make working from home the default position.

We have published guidance to support employers and the self-employed with the continuation of homeworking. It has been developed to complement the suite of COVID-19 related guidance on safer workplaces and can be applied across any sector where homeworking is a feasible option for both workers and businesses.

In March we published a statement of Fair Work Principles, setting out our commitment to ensure fair work was at the centre of our national response to COVID-19 during lockdown. The development of our guidance to date has been shaped by these Fair Work principles. On 19 July we issued a new statement with organisations including the Institute of Directors, SCDI, STUC, COSLA and SCVO underlining the continued collaborative approach needed between employers, unions and workers to ensure workplaces can operate safely.

On the basis of the evidence summarised above, the assessment is that this criterion has been met at this review point.



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