COVID-19 Guidance for Food Business Operators and Their Employees

7 documents for this subject


This guidance has been updated. The current version was published on 11 August so if you have downloaded an earlier version please download the updated one.  The final page of the guidance summarises the changes that have been made since the first version was published in April.

Our guidance for food business operators (FBOs) and their employees aims to assist all businesses in the food and drink sector in following government guidance on infection prevention and control measures against COVID-19. It has been produced with input from the food industry and Trade Unions and reflects the most up to date advice from Scottish and UK Government and Health Protection Scotland. 

Since the guidance was first published at the start of April, it has been reviewed 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). The previous version (published on 19 June) described measures for preventing the spread of COVID-19 which should be applied by food manufacturing, processing and retail which have been permitted to operate since the start of lockdown, as well as the ‘Food to Go’ sector, including take-away, delivery and drive through services which were allowed to re-open during Phase 1 of the Routemap.

As we have moved into Phases 2 and 3 of the Routemap, our guidance now covers the measures that apply to pubs and restaurants, which were permitted to re-open outdoor spaces on 6 July 2020, with the re-opening of indoor spaces planned for 15 July. This complements over-arching guidance produced for the hospitality sector by Scottish Government, and UK Hospitality (Scotland), which we would also encourage food businesses to refer to when implementing and reviewing their COVID-19 control measures.

The guidance also now reflects exceptions to the 2m physical distancing rule that will be permitted for the retail sector from 10 July 2020, and the hospitality sector from 15 July 2020. This will allow food businesses in these sectors 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 new legal requirements which came into force from 10 July, which will require the wearing of face coverings in retail settings.

In addition, following reports of outbreaks of COVID-19 in food production facilities elsewhere in the UK and in Europe, the guidance further emphasises the need to consider 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 is also included to support FBOs in understanding their role in Scotland’s Test and Protect Strategy.

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. 

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.

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

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