Coronavirus guidance for the retail sector

Support provided by Scottish Government

What does this involve?

The Scottish Government has issued guidance for the retail sector on operating safely during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. This includes advice on risk assessment and safety measures for staff and customers, as well as an operational guide and checklist for retailers. It also includes specific advice for close contact services, such as hairdressers and barbers.

The guidance has been updated to support the reopening of certain retail businesses as coronavirus restrictions ease.

From Monday 5 April 2021:

  • all shops will be allowed to operate click and collect services (appointments will be needed to pick up goods)
  • hairdressers and barber shops will be allowed to reopen for appointments
  • certain other businesses can reopen, including car showrooms and forecourts, homeware stores and garden centres


The guidance should be used by retailers to plan for a restart and continue to operate safely while minimising the risk of virus transmission.

It includes information on which businesses can open and which activities are permitted in each of Scotland's 5 protection levels.

Other topics include:

  • assessing risk
  • workforce planning and support
  • guidance for close contact services, including hairdressers and barbers
  • operational guide and checklist
  • click and collect services
  • deliveries and distribution
  • training and compliance


There is also information on related guidance and additional resources that are relevant to retailers. This includes:

  • guidance on ventilation in commercial and domestic properties, as increasing the volume of outside air entering a building by opening windows, doors or vents can help minimise the risk of spreading COVID-19 to staff and customers
  • advice on safe travel for staff and customers, such as avoiding car sharing if possible


What does this cost?

This is a free service.

Who is this for?

Companies with retail premises in Scotland. The guidance cover the spectrum of different retailers in Scotland, from department stores to independent traders.

It also includes guidance for close contact services such as:

  • hairdressers and barbers
  • spas
  • sunbed salons
  • tattoo artists
  • indoor photography studios
  • tailors
  • shoe fitters
  • specialist close contact counters within stores such as make-up counters

Additional guidance for food retailers is available on the Food Standards Scotland website.

How long does this take?

It will take around 2 hours to read the full guidance. It has been split into sections, so you can read the most relevant information first. 

Important information

Only hairdressers and barbers with premises can reopen on 5 April - other close contact services must remain closed. This guidance will be updated again before the reopening of all close contact services, intended for 26 April.

Each retailer should use this guidance to determine the specific actions they need to take depending on the nature of their business (that is, the size and type of business, how it is organised, operated, managed and regulated).

As each workplace is different, individual businesses should work with trade unions or workforce representatives selected by employees to determine how best to apply this guidance in their circumstances.

Next steps

Visit the Scottish Government website for more information and to read the full guidance.

Support provided by Scottish Government

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