Covid 19 - What you need to know - Scottish Government issue advice

25 Mar

On Wednesday 25th March, the Scottish Government issued guidance for leisure and retail businesses who are subject to closure.  This follows closely advice already published by the UK Government. 

 First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, speaking at a press conference in Edinburgh on Wednesday, made it clear that the direction for specific businesses to close was not a request. The law on which this guidance is based has not technically been commenced in Scotland but that is expected imminently.  Relevant enforcement powers for these measures will be extended to Scotland by Ministerial Direction once the Coronavirus Bill is in force.

 In her comments she repeated expectation for business to behave responsibly.  The guidance again emphasises this message:

 “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.”

Although pubs, restaurants and cafes are expected to remain closed to ‘on-sale’ business the guidance provides exemptions for food delivery and takeaway.  The guidance does appear to distinguish between Public Houses and Bars suggesting the latter should be closed to all business.  In Scottish Licensing law, and wider, there is no definable difference between a ‘pub’ and ‘bar’ and this appears to be a glitch in the guidance.

It is not important how you define your premises, the current guidance would permit premises to carry on off-sale business.  The premises’ licence must still provide for off-sale as an activity and no regulation around the retail or delivery or alcohol has been relaxed by the Government therefore businesses should review the terms of their licence before shifting into this area.  Also, as previously reported, if you are thinking of diversifying your food business by providing a take-away option, deliveries, or pre-made meals that consumers can reheat from home, you may need to change the way you work. You might need to put in additional controls, or provide additional advice to your customers.

We would recommend that you consult your Environmental Health Service (local authority) who will be more than happy to provide you with advice during these difficult times to protect your customers.

You can also get useful information online from the Food Standards Scotland

Advice on support packages available for business and their employees from the Scottish Government can be found here.


Law correct at the date of publication.
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