Covid Scotland: New rules and Scottish Government Covid guidance for bars, shops and restaurants, explained

Following Nicola Sturgeon’s Scottish Government Covid guidance update, here are the latest coronavirus rules and guidance for hospitality businesses in Scotland.

Covid Scotland: New rules and Scottish Government Covid guidance for bars, shops and restaurants, explained (Image credit: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
Covid Scotland: New rules and Scottish Government Covid guidance for bars, shops and restaurants, explained (Image credit: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

The First Minister’s Covid briefing to Scottish Parliament on Tuesday (December 14) saw new Covid rules and guidance announced for Scotland, coming into force for businesses today December 16).

The new coronavirus rules for businesses in Scotland will see a return to the sort of restrictions that were in place prior to the relaxation of level 0 Covid restrictions in August.

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Nicola Sturgeon told Holyrood on Tuesday that the new Scottish Government Covid guidance was “very reluctantly” being imposed on hospitality businesses as Omicron cases are expected to rise even further in the coming days.

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But what is the new Covid guidance for bars, restaurants, shops and hospitality venues?

Here’s what you need to know.

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What are the new Covid rules for hospitality in Scotland?

The new rules and guidance for Scottish businesses, set to come into force on Friday December 16, will require all businesses to take “reasonable measures” to prevent the further spread of Omicron in Scotland.

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Advice for bars, restaurants, cafes and pubs will see the return of one-way systems, plastic screens and app-based ordering in order to prevent bottlenecks and crowding at service points.

The new guidance asks hospitality businesses to maximise good ventilation, encourage customers and staff to practice hygiene and cleaning and to comply with face covering rules in Scotland.

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For the hospitality and tourism sector, specific guidance includes asking businesses to revise or expanding current queuing management systems to reduce bottlenecks and crowding at ‘pinch points’ such as bars to allow customers to distance from one another.

It also asks bars, restaurants, pubs and cafes to take steps to reduce interactions within premises by adapting ordering systems, service methods and capacity.

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Guidance states that reintroducing one way systems and app-based ordering could help to reduce pressure on staff and service points and reintroduce screens between tables and at service points.

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What are the new Covid retail restrictions in Scotland?

According to guidance published by the Scottish Government today, retail spaces and shops will also be required to take additional steps to prevent the further spread of Omicron.

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The general rules and guidance asks all businesses to encourage regular lateral flow testing of up to twice a week among employees and introduce measures to improve ventilation.

Retail-specific guidance for shops outlined in the Scottish Government’s updated ‘Retail Operational Checklist’ includes the following recommendations:

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- The use of signage, verbal prompts, tannoy announcements and other relevant modes of communication to convey key health and safety messages such as getting tested regularly, avoiding crowds and maintaining good hand and respiratory hygiene

- The use of Covid marshals at store entrance points to encourage customers to use hygiene stations and wear face coverings

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- Consider reintroducing one way systems and physical distance markers to ensure smooth and distanced flow of customers in stores

- Maximise ventilation by keeping doors and windows open

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- Carry out enhanced cleaning in customer and work areas, staff rooms, canteens and for equipment

- Take measures to reduce potential crowding and ensure physical distancing in queues

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What support has been introduced for businesses under new guidance?

Retail and hospitality businesses asked to revise their current workplace practices under new Scottish Government Covid guidance will be able to access support through a £100 million grant announced by the Scottish Government on Tuesday.

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The grant, Ms Sturgeon said on Tuesday, is designed to help hospitality businesses in particular cope with a wave of Christmas cancellations as well as support the introduction of more measures.

She added that "I know it does not go far enough in compensating businesses for what we are asking of them now - and, of course, no government can rule out having to go further in the weeks ahead."

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Economic Secretary Kate Forbes stressed the need for additional funding to be triggered by the UK Government on Thursday.

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“We know that businesses need financial support now,” Ms Forbes said.

"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.

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"I wrote to the Chancellor last night and the First Minister has requested talks with the Prime Minister – this situation is serious and we need the UK Government to engage with us on further support.”

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