The Scottish Government yesterday published new guidance for businesses, requiring them to take “reasonable measures” to minimise transmission of coronavirus amid criticism at less than 24 hours notice.
It says masks should be worn inside all businesses, while retail and hospitality should consider measures to reduce crowding.
Businesses are also being told to consider new measures to manage customer queues and return to a table service system in order to tackle the spread of the Omicron variant.
It emerged last night that Wales is set to see a return to tougher Covid restrictions after Christmas. Nightclubs will be closed from December 27 under the new rules, although the Welsh Government has announced a £60 million fund to support any businesses affected by the restrictions. From the same date, two-metre social distancing will be mandatory in offices, and measures including one-way systems and physical barriers will be introduced in businesses to protect customers and staff. Regulations will also be changed to include a requirement to work from home wherever possible.
In Scotland, the new guidance for firms suggests one-way systems in premises, app-based ordering and the use of screens at service points.
It also suggests a return to table service where practical, as well as a ticketing system during peak festive opening hours.
Economy Secretary Kate Forbes said: “The Omicron variant is spreading at a rapid pace and we have had to work extremely quickly to get revised guidance in place for businesses, to take effect from Friday 17 December.
“It is crucial that everyone follows this guidance to support businesses to keep their premises safe and prevent transmission of Omicron, especially as we ramp up booster vaccinations.
“Please get your booster, test regularly, follow the guidance, wear a mask and distance from people when you’re out and about.
“All of these layers of protection will help to limit the spread of Omicron, especially as we approach the festive period.”
She continued: “I am also making a plea to be considerate to staff who are doing their best during this challenging period.
“In addition to guidance, we know that businesses need financial support now.
“We are working to get funding out to businesses as soon as we can but the Treasury must also step up and provide urgent funding beyond what we are able to provide.”
Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross raised this at First Minister’s Questions, saying mixed messages were causing confusion for businesses.
Nicola Sturgeon said the Government had been in touch with businesses throughout the week and many of the measures were used earlier in the pandemic.