COVID-19 Guidance for Food Business Operators and Their Employees

8 documents for this subject


Since first being published in April, our guidance for food businesses has been continually 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 19 January 2021:

  • Editing of takeaway advice, reflecting the no-indoor entry restrictions in line with Scottish Government guidelines.

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 which have been operating since the start of lockdown in reviewing and maintaining the controls they have already applied to prevent the transmission of COVID-19 throughout the workplace. It will also help businesses planning to restart operations in identifying what they need to do 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 COVID-19 Framework for Decision Making (Scotlands Route Map through and Out of the Crisis)

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, and exemptions that are permitted for the hospitality sector, which allows these businesses to move to 1m physical distancing, but only where additional risk mitigation measures are in place. 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 help food businesses plan to re-start as lockdown restrictions are relaxed. It will also assist those which are already operating to review the steps they have taken to prevent the spread of COVID-19 whilst ensuring food safety. 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.  A checklist is also available to support the risk assessment which summarises the key areas that need to be assessed when restarting your business, and will help managers to communicate with staff on the measures that need to be taken to prevent the spread of COVID-19. In addition to these documents, we have also developed a practical guide aimed at addressing the specific challenges faced by small businesses in the take-away sector in preventing the spread of COVID-19. This includes model notices that can be used to communicate to customers the social distancing requirements at their premises.

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.

New guidance for Food Business Operators (FBOs) on the investigation of COVID-19 outbreaks: What to expect from an Incident Management Team (IMT) investigation

To accompany the resources set out above, we have developed new guidance 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 describes to FBOs what to expect from an IMT investigation and will provide greater certainty around decision making on appropriate actions that need to be taken to prevent the further spread of COVID-19 in the community. The guidance emphasises the importance of food businesses being able to demonstrate that they have been adhering to guidance, with appropriate measures in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and protect their workforce from the risks of infection. 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 will continue to be reviewed regularly in line with Scottish Government’s review of lockdown restrictions during later phases of the routemap and strategic framework, as well as emerging evidence and changes to public health advice.

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