Advice for the hospitality industry

Updated 25/09/2020

The return to pubs and restaurants is starting to feel like a normal and welcome transition for many, but with spikes in COVID-19 cases linked to some bars in Scotland it’s important to consider how those working in hospitality and those attending can reduce the risk of virus transmission.

Advice and legislation changes frequently and will vary between areas. Please follow the guidance for the area you are in and check the most current information before going out. For the latest Scottish Government coronavirus advice, click here.

For venues

  • Offer staff time to complete any new training that will help keep your business, staff and customers safe. For example the World Health Organisation has FREE, certificated online training courses on how to use PPE and, cleaning your environment and hand washing
  • Taking contact details of customers is mandatory as of 14th August 2020 to enable effective track and trace – make sure you are sticking to current data protection legislation in the way you collect this info.
  • Arrange physical partitions between tables if possible and shield bar/ordering area to protect staff.
  • Face coverings for customers and staff is now mandatory when entering, exiting and moving around hospitality. There is an exemption for when customers are seated for the service of food and drink and for back of house roles or staff who are behind protective screens separating them from customers. Venues should provide properly fitted face masks for their staff, should they wish to wear them. Visors are not recommended, as they only provide a limited level of protection.
  • Staff should be given frequent breaks to wash their hands and sanitise their work area. Provide ample hand sanitiser and hand cream. Consider giving all staff individual supplies of PPE and other hygiene products.
  • Ensure staff have time to clean all surfaces regularly. Pay particular attention to items that are touched most regularly such as tables, chairs, doors, rails, toilets and ashtrays.
  • Provide disposable menus or laminate them so they can be easily cleaned between customers. Alternatively, allow pre-ordering or if your WiFi is good enough use electronic menus!
  • Remove non-essential items from tables and bar areas such as straws, decorations and promotional information.
  • Cover straws and napkins and where possible keep these behind the bar.
  • Use table service and carry out regular glass collection to discourage customers bringing empties to the bar. This will reduce movement through the venue.
  • Offer outdoor seating where possible. If indoors, maintain good ventilation – open doors and windows.
  • Stick to low numbers of customers being inside the venue at one time and space tables out as much as possible, maintain this outside too.
  • Encourage customers to stick to their social bubbles. No more than 6 people from 2 households should meet.
  • Ask for card payments as a preference but make sure you are sanitising the payment equipment between transactions.
  • To discourage shouting keep background noise (including music and TV) down low.
  • Offer paper towels rather than air hand-dryers in the toilets and remind customers to put the toilet seat down before flushing.
  • We’ve all experienced a period of uncertainty. Staff may be feeling uneasy about returning to work. Think about how everyone’s mental health and wellbeing can be supported.

Download this advice as a PDF here: Hospitality advice – venues

For customers

  • Only go out if you feel well and have no symptoms of illness. Catch coughs and sneezes in a tissue and dispose of any tissues into a bin and wash hands immediately. If no tissues are available catch coughs and sneezes in the crook of your elbow.
  • Follow any guidance that the venue has put in place. Their guidance might look different to other venues and they may have extra measures that go beyond government guidance in place – this is their choice to protect customers and staff in a way that works for them.
  • Stick to your social bubbles and households – maintain physical distance of at least 1 meter from others. Be respectful for those around you.
  • Drinking alcohol or taking other drugs?
    – Think about your tolerance. If you have not been out in a while your tolerance may be reduced. This means you will need less to feel the effects. Start low and avoid mixing alcohol and other drugs (including medicines).
    – Alcohol and other drugs can reduce your inhibitions and perception of risk. Take extra care to follow guidance and maintain distancing.
    – Your immunity may be lowered in the days after a big night out. Take it easy and give your body time to recover.
    – Check out our drugs and COVID-19 harm reduction information here.
  • Pay with card.
  • Regularly use hand sanitiser and wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Pop the toilet lid down before flushing and wash your hands thoroughly after using the toilet.
  • Try to avoid shouting and singing – this can help prevent the spread of droplets in the air.
  • Stay well hydrated – especially on hot and sunny days. Never leave your drink unattended.
  • Avoid moving around the venue e.g. moving seats, taking empties to the bar and for now – nae dancin! If you need to move around e.g. to go to use the toilet, move table – best practice would be to wear a face covering while doing so.
  • Be kind. Be kind. Be kind – we really are all in this together despite moving through the unknown seas in different boats. Staff working in hospitality deserve your respect and compassion.
  • Tip staff – they deserve it!

Nightlife, bars and eating out are a huge part of our social culture. While we all want to ‘eat out to help out’; are keen to see our loved ones and see favourite venues open back up – we need to balance this with a wider responsibility for public health. The rules are restrictive but hopefully they are only temporary. By sticking to the government guidance we can make sure our communities and our favourite venues are safe places for years to come.

Useful links

  • Find the latest Scottish Government advice for the tourism and hospitality industry here
  • The Scottish Government advice on COVID-19 in general can be found here
  • Advice for the events industry can be found here
  • Better Than Zero – a collective supporting people in Scotland to understand employment rights
  • Unite the Union – join to protect your employment rights and support in reporting bad practice