We use cookies for monitoring visitor numbers only and we do not store any personal details. Learn more...

Member helpline 01738 448325

Perthshire Chamber of Commerce

Scottish Government Coronavirus (COVID-19): business and social distancing guidance. Published 25.03.20

Guidance for businesses in Scotland on social distancing, including the closure of all retailers that sell non-essential goods and other non-essential premises due to the COVID-19 outbreak.  Published 25 Mar 2020

Coronavirus (COVID-19): business and social distancing guidance

This document is part of a collection : Business, industry and innovationCoronavirus in ScotlandHealth and social care

Social distancing measures are for everyone, including business. We should all be trying to reduce social interaction between people in order to reduce the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). View the guidance on social distancing on NHS inform.

We recognise this is a very testing time for business in Scotland.  We are grateful to the many companies that are being responsible by actively supporting homeworking and allowing staff the time off for isolation.  Other companies are pivoting production to contribute to fighting COVID-19 (e.g. producing sanitisers, ventilators etc.). 


Be Responsible


In this public health crisis it is vital that ALL businesses act responsibly and align fully with the social distancing measures introduced to protect the nation’s heath, well-being and economic future

As such we would advise all business premises, sites and attractions to close now unless:

  • essential to the health and welfare of the country during this crisis (as defined below); or
  • supporting (or being repurposed to support) essential services; or
  • capable of working in a way which is fully consistent with established social distancing advice; or
  • wider public health, health and safety or other considerations apply and require a facility or service to continue to operate  or a specific period of time for a safe shutdown process to be completed.

Critical National Infrastructure (CNI) sectors define those facilities, systems, sites and networks necessary for the functioning of the country and the delivery of the essential services upon which daily life in Scotland depends. Essential services are the fundamental services that underpin daily life and ensure the country continues to function. There are 13 designated CNI sectors (Energy; Communications – Telecommunications, Public Broadcast, Postal Services, Internet; Government; Transport; Finance; Civil Nuclear; Defence; Chemicals; Space; Government; Health; Food; Water and Waste; Emergency Services) but not everything and everybody within a national infrastructure sector is 'critical'.  

Even where businesses are in the CNI category and judge themselves to be exempt from closure of business premises, it is imperative that they keep open only those premises or parts of premises that are truly critical or essential to the national COVID effort (e.g. keep a milk production line premises open but related logistics staff work from home wherever possible and non-essential staff must work from home; while it is important to keep the financial system operating so that the public can access money, not all bank branches or offices will need to stay open and many staff will be  able to work from home). 

Business should look critically at their role and operations.  Non-essential  business sectors – like construction (unless it is essential construction, such as a hospital)  – should close unless and until we can all be clear how  operations can be undertaken safely.  We will work with the sector -  and others -  to consider if it is possible to produce appropriate guidance on that specific point. Unless and until such guidance is issued, non-essential construction sites should stay closed.

All individuals and businesses that are not being specifically required to close  should consider a key set of questions– and at all times work on the precautionary basis:

  • Is what you do essential or material to the effort against the virus or to the wellbeing of society?
  • if so, can your staff work from home?
  • if not can you practise safe social distancing and comply with ALL other standard health and safety requirements.

       If the answer to none of the above questions is yes, our advice on a precautionary basis is to close.

We know that for some – self-employed gardeners, window cleaners, or those working in rural areas – where there is no contact – if you can practise safely, then this could be good for the community, but safety and social distancing must come first.

We are relying on business to be responsible at this time of national emergency.  Exceptionally, some more nuanced cases may arise and we will establish a central Scottish Government function urgently to provide advice and direction where needed.  Further details will follow.

Guidance: Further businesses and premises which must close

On 23 March the Scottish Government working closely with the UK Government, stepped up measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus and save lives. All non-essential premises must now close.

Takeaway and delivery services may remain open and operational in line with earlier guidance on Friday 20 March. Online retail is still open and encouraged, and postal and delivery services will run as normal. 

Retail and public premises which we expect to remain open must:

  • Ensure a distance of two meters between customers and shop assistants and  take equivalent measures to protect their workforce consistent with fair work principles;
  • Let people enter the shop only in small groups, to ensure that spaces are not crowded. 
  • Ensure queue control consistent with social distancing advice outside of shops and other essential premises that remain open.

Parks will remain open but only for individuals and households to exercise once a day. Communal spaces within parks such as playgrounds and football pitches will be closed.   

Non-essential businesses and premises must now shut 

As also set out in the UK Government’s published guidance the following common list of businesses and premises must remain closedLength of closure 

Business, premises or place


Food and drink



Food delivery and takeaway can remain operational.

Cafes, including workplace canteens


Food delivery and takeaway can remain operational.

Cafés or canteens at hospitals, care homes or schools; prison and military canteens; services providing food or drink to the homeless.

Where there are no practical alternatives, other workplace canteens can remain open to provide food for their staff and/or provide a space for breaks. However, where possible, staff should be encouraged to bring their own food, and distributors should move to takeaway. Measures should be taken to minimise the number of people in the canteen at any one given time, for example by using a rota.

Public houses

Food delivery and takeaway can remain operational and can be a new activity supported by the new permitted development right. This covers the provision of hot or cold food that has been prepared for consumers for collection or delivery to be consumed, reheated or cooked by consumers off the premises

Bars and nightclubs, including bars in hotels or members’ clubs




Hair, beauty and nail salons, including piercing and tattoo parlours


Massage parlours


All retail with notable exceptions


Supermarkets and other food shops, health shops, pharmacies including non-dispensing pharmacies, petrol stations, bicycle shops, home and hardware shops, laundrettes and dry cleaners, bicycle shops, garages, car rentals, pet shops, corner shops,   Off-licences and licenced shops selling alcohol, including those within breweries, newsagents, post offices, and banks.

Outdoor and indoor markets


Market stalls which offer essential retail, such as grocery and food.

Auction houses


Car showrooms

Car garages and repair shops



Hotels, hostels, BnBs, campsites and boarding houses for commercial use


Where people live in these as interim abodes whilst their primary residence is unavailable they may continue to do so.

Key workers can continue to stay in hotels or similar where required.


Key workers, permanent residents, and non-UK residents who are unable to travel to their country of residence during this period can continue to stay in hotels or similar where required.

People who are unable to move into a new home due to the current restrictions can also stay at hotels.

Where hotels, hostels, and B&Bs are providing rooms to support homeless and other vulnerable people such as those who cannot safely stay in their home, through arrangements with local authorities and other public bodies, they may remain open.

Hotels are allowed to host blood donation sessions.

Caravan parks/sites for commercial uses


Where people live permanently in caravan parks or are staying in caravan parks as interim abodes where their primary residence is not available, they may continue to do so.

Non-residential institutions




Community centres, youth centres and similar


Facilities may remain open for the purpose of hosting essential voluntary or public services, such as food banks or homeless services.

We will do everything to support vulnerable people who are without a network of friends and families.

Places of worship for services


Funerals, where the congregation is immediate family (with provision for a carer, if required) or a friend - in the case that no family members are attending. A distance of 2 metres is to be maintained between every household group, as per Public Health England guidelines.

A minister of religion, to go to their place of worship, including to broadcast an act of worship to people outside the place of worship, whether over the internet or otherwise.

For the purpose of hosting essential voluntary or public service, such as food banks, homeless services, and blood donation sessions.

Cinemas, theatres and concert halls


Live streaming of a performance by a small group could be permissible with social distancing observed.

Blood donation sessions also allowed to be held at these venues.

Assembly and leisure


Museums and galleries


Bingo halls, casinos and betting shops




Skating rinks


Fitness studios, gyms, swimming pools or other indoor leisure centres

Leisure centres may stay open for blood donation sessions.

Arcades, bowling alleys, soft play centres and similar


Outdoor recreation


Enclosed spaces in parks, including playgrounds, sports courts and pitches, and outdoor gyms or similar


This guidance comes into effect immediately and extends until further notice.  The Scottish Government will look again at these measures in three weeks.   


Everyone is instructed to comply with the rules issued by the Scottish and UK  Governments in relation to coronavirus, in order to protect both themselves and others. 

Relevant enforcement powers for these measures will be extended to Scotland by Ministerial Direction once the Coronavirus Bill is in force. 

Advice on substantive support packages available for business and their employees is at https://findbusinesssupport.gov.scot/.

In this section

More information








 Developing the Young Workforce

 Photo Gallery

 Star Awards

 Privacy Notice

 PCC: International Trade Survey 2020 Q1


© 2022 Perthshire Chamber of Commerce | Registered in Scotland 21856 | VAT No: 270 6586 43 | Website by Broxden