COVID-19 Guidance for Food Business Operators and Their Employees
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Food Standard Scotland’s guidance on COVID-19 for food businesses was first published in April 2020, and has been continually updated since then to take account of new evidence, changes to public health advice and the introduction of mandatory mitigation measures needed to control the spread of the virus.
On 9 August 2021, Scotland moved beyond COVID-19 Level 0 allowing all venues and businesses to open with most legal restrictions being removed. However, a baseline set of mitigation measures is to be retained across all sectors, and these are detailed in Scottish Government’s general safer workplaces guidance which aims to support businesses in controlling the risks of COVID-19 beyond Level 0. The introduction of the new guidance from Scottish Government has removed the requirement, at this time, for sector specific guidelines.
Food businesses should make sure they are referring to the Scottish Government guidance from 9 August 2021.
To assist food businesses in translating the measures in the Scottish Government safer workplaces guidance, FSS has updated its 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 Food Safety Management System (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.
FSS has also updated its guidance 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 throughout the current stage of the pandemic. Using the resources supplied by FSS and Scottish Government 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.
It is important to note that 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 any further changes to public health advice.