COVID-19 Guidance for Food Business Operators and Their Employees

5 documents for this subject


Since first being published in April 2020, our guidance for food businesses has been continually updated to take into account changes to advice and requirements around COVID-19. Please make sure you are using the most recent version of the guidance. Updates published on 26 July 2021:

  • Inclusion of exemption of self-isolation for critical workers

We have developed this package of guidance to help food businesses in identifying and implementing the measures needed to prevent the spread of COVID-19 across their operations. It is intended to support food businesses in reviewing and maintaining controls throughout the workplace to prevent the transmission of COVID-19, to ensure the safety of their staff and customers. The guidance was first published in April 2020, and was developed in consultation with the food industry, Local Authorities and Trade Unions.

Our guidance package supports Scottish Government’s over-arching sector guidance for easing lockdown, and has been reviewed and updated on an on-going basis to reflect Scottish Government's Strategic Framework which sets out the plan to restore, in a phased way, greater normality to our everyday lives.

Our guidance covers the following key information for food businesses:

  • Measures for preventing the spread of COVID-19 in food manufacturing, processing, retail, hospitality (pubs restaurants and cafes) and take-aways.
  • How physical distancing should be applied in all food businesses. It provides details of appropriate risk mitigation measures that should be applied by these businesses, including the legal requirements which have come into force that require the wearing of face coverings.
  • Details on considerations for physical distancing and hygiene measures for employees in shared spaces out with the working environment including staff accommodation, transport facilities and communal areas such as canteens, rest rooms and smoking areas.
  • Information to support FBOs in understanding their role in Scotland’s Test and Protect Strategy.
  • Up to date links to relevant guidance documents produced by Scottish Government, Health Protection Scotland, UK Government, NHS, Health and Safety Executive, Environmental Health and Industry bodies. It is strongly recommended that food businesses refer to these documents alongside the FSS guidance.

To accompany the guidance, we have developed a risk assessment tool which will support FBOs in identifying and documenting the actions they need to take to prevent the spread of COVID-19, whilst maintaining an effective FSMS. The tool provides a way of allowing all FBOs to document the measures they have taken, and demonstrate that these are being maintained on an on-going basis to ensure their staff and customers are protected from the risks of COVID-19. Guidance has also been developed for FBOs on the investigation of COVID-19 outbreaks. This has been developed in collaboration with Public Health Scotland (PHS) which aims to help food businesses understand how decisions will be taken when an outbreak of COVID-19 is identified in their workforce. This guidance is split into two main sections which describes what FBOs are expected to know in relation to controlling COVID-19 in the workplace, and how to prepare for an IMT.

This guidance package is essential for all food businesses operating during the pandemic. Using the resources supplied by us will also support FBOs in engaging with their employees on the management of COVID-19 risks to ensure a safe working environment, in accordance with the joint statement on ‘fair work expectations during the transition out of lockdown’ signed by The Cabinet Secretary for Economy, Fair Work & Culture, CoSLA, the Institute of Directors and Scottish Council for Development & Industry, the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations and the STUC.  All employers are asked to reflect on and act in accordance with the Statement as the economy re-opens and to help progress the ambition shared by the Scottish Government and the Fair Work Convention for Scotland to become a Fair Work Nation.

This guidance package will continue to be reviewed regularly in line with Scottish Government’s review of lockdown restrictions during later phases of the strategic framework, as well as emerging evidence and changes to public health advice.

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