Information for businesses

Throughout the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, our priority is to protect public health, while providing support and advice to businesses across Aberdeen City.   

The UK Government and the Scottish Government have agreed on regulations and emergency restrictions.  The legislation that has been passed in Scotland is the Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Restrictions) (Scotland) Regulations 2020.  

The Council is the main regulator for retail, wholesale distribution and warehousing, hotel and catering premises, offices, and the consumer/leisure industries, including the requirements of physical distancing on these premises. We will be publishing information about what the new measures mean for services on this page in response to evolving government guidance.   

Our Trading Standards Officers and Environmental Health Officers are striving to make sure that local businesses are complying with legal requirements.  These requirements relate to the opening and closure of business premises and to the physical distancing measures that should be put in place. 

Local Restrictions 

Following an increase in coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in Aberdeen, local advice on travel and indoor gatherings between households has changed 

Measures have also been taken to close indoor and outdoor hospitality. The restrictions will be reviewed on 19 August. 

Visit the Scottish Government website for a full list of local advice and measures for Aberdeen   

If you are a business based in Aberdeen City and you would like advice on the operation of your business, contact us via our online form

Route map for easing lockdown restrictions 

The Scottish Government has published a four-phase  route map  for easing lockdown restrictions in response to COVID-19.

The following businesses and premises must remain closed. This reflects regulations that are in force.

  • arcades, bowling alleys, soft play centres and similar such as high street adult gaming centres
  • bingo halls and casinos
  • fitness studios, gyms, swimming pools and other indoor leisure centres – leisure centres can remain open for blood donation sessions
  • funfairs
  • nightclubs
  • skating rinks
  • theatres and concert halls – blood donation sessions can be held at these venues

These businesses and venues must remain closed as they involve prolonged close social contact, which increases the chance of infection spreading.

The collection of customer and visitor details 

The Scottish Government has issued guidance to businesses regarding the collection of customer details. 

The guidance applies to any establishment operating in the following sectors that provide on-site services. 

This includes, but is not limited to: 

  • Hospitality, including restaurants, cafes, and pubs, as well as hotels and other accommodation providers. 
  • Tourism and leisure, including theme parks, museums, and cinemas 
  • Close contact services, including hairdressers, barbers, beauticians, tattooists, sports and massage therapists, dress fitters, tailors, and fashion designers 
  • Facilities provided by local authorities, such as libraries, leisure centres, and registration offices 
  • Cremation authorities, burial authorities, places of worship or funeral director service rooms offering funeral services 
  • Places of worship which are reopening for congregational services and communal prayer or contemplation

It does not, however, apply where services are taken off-site immediately, for example, a library operating a click-and-collect service or a food outlet that only provides takeaways. If premises offer a mixture of an on-site and collection service, contact information only needs to be collected for customers who remain on-site.  

Physical distancing for business

Retail and public premises which are expected to remain open or are re-opening must take all reasonable measures to: 

  • ensure a distance of 2 metres between customers, and between customers and shop assistants; and  take equivalent measures to protect their workforce consistent with fair work principles, bearing in mind that some people will find these measures more challenging to adhere to than others e.g. those with sight loss, autism, learning disabilities or dementia, or those with other hidden disabilities or difficulties, including those who are deaf who may not realise you are talking to them 

  • only let people enter the shop in sufficiently small numbers, to ensure that physical distancing can take place 

  • ensure that there is queue control consistent with physical distancing advice outside of shops and other essential premises that remain open 

Exemption to the 2 metre physical distance rules

Hospitality services, such as pubs, restaurants, and cafes may operate within the 1m physical distancing exemption. If they do, they must have clear signage for customers. It also means additional mitigating measures must be in place to reduce the risks of operating at 1m as opposed to 2m. 

The Scottish Government has published an operational checklist that includes these mitigating measures for tourism and hospitality businesses. Please also see the guidance for the tourism and hospitality businesses below. 

Guidance for Business

The Scottish Government has published guidance for the following sectors:

Social media

For the latest news from Aberdeen Trading Standards visit the Trading Standards Twitter page.

Frequently asked questions

The Scottish Government has published a four-phase route map for easing lockdown restrictions in response to COVID-19. 

If you are a business operating in Aberdeen city, or their employees looking for specific advice regarding whether you can reopen and the restrictions in place you can contact us through our online form.

Please note: there are restrictions on hospitality premises. Businesses offering food or drink for consumption on the premises - such as pubs, restaurants, bars and cafes - must cease to offer this service. 

Other sectors should continue to follow Phase 3 guidance, and be extra vigilant about hygiene and physical distancing. 

If you are considering reopening your premises to your employees and/or the public, the first thing you must carry out is a risk assessment for COVID-19. The HSE has extensive guidance and advice to assist you with this and other considerations for providing a safe workplace, for more information visit the HSE website. Please note that other links from the HSE website to gov.uk pages regarding COVID-19 matters are for businesses based in England.  

Remember that your business model may have changed, and more of your employees may now be working from home – you must include them in your risk assessment.

You should also speak to your insurance company for any specifics they require you to assess.

The opening of public toilets carries with it a risk of transmission of COVID-19 given the low levels of natural light, lack of ventilation, many surfaces to touch, and the purpose of a toilet. Therefore, there is a need for careful consideration of how public toilets can be opened as safely as possible.  

The Scottish Government has issued guidance on the opening of public and customer toilets during the coronavirus pandemic. 
 

Employers, the self-employed, and people in control of premises, such as landlords, have a duty to protect people by identifying and controlling risks associated with legionella.

If your building was closed or has reduced occupancy during the COVID-19 outbreak, water system stagnation can occur due to lack of use, increasing the risks of Legionnaires’ disease.

The bacteria are carried in aerosol droplets from outlets such as showerheads, spray taps at sinks, spa pools, garden hoses attached to sprinklers, air conditioning systems, etc.

Before reopening your building, you must take steps to control the risks of legionella. Traditional methods of control include storing hot water above 60°C, and ensuring it reaches 50°C within one minute of running the hot water tap.  Similarly, cold water should be stored and distributed below 20°C.

Given the current restrictions, maintenance staff or specialist contractors may not be able to attend your premises to take monthly temperatures.  In these situations, you should introduce twice-weekly flushing of your system as a short-term measure to increase water turnover.  You should continue to check water temperatures monthly and actioning any out-of-range temperatures.  All these actions must be logged.

If your building has been completely closed, you must act a few weeks before reopening:

  • 2-3 weeks before reopening: you should consider a building chlorination, especially if you have cold water storage tanks.  This is because the temperature of the water in these systems is likely to have increased above 20°C.  Take a water sample at this stage, as this gives you time to action unfavourable results.  
  • 2-3 days before reopening: you should raise the temperature at hot water storage vessels/calorifier(s) to 60°C and turn the hot water taps on at every outlet.  Continue to flush the water until the temperature remains stable.  Those carrying out these checks are most at risk from the bacteria and must take precautions, such as covering spray taps with a clean cloth, or placing a clean plastic bag over a showerhead that cannot be removed, and cutting a corner of the bag.  Continue to flush the system regularly until the building is back in regular use.  Again, ensure you log all these actions.
  • If your workplace has been closed for an extended period and has air conditioning units that have a source of water that can generate aerosol, you will need to assess the risks of legionella being present within them before restarting. Small wall or ceiling-mounted units with closed cooling systems should not present a risk.

Larger units may present a risk if they have improperly drained condensate trays, or humidifier or evaporative cooling sections where water can stagnate, becoming a reservoir for bacteria to grow.

You must also update your Legionella risk assessment with any changes made to the water system or its operation and ensure the written control scheme is also updated.  You must also decide what the risks are for your air conditioning units and if you need to clean them safely before they are turned on.

More information is available on the HSE website and in Guidance produced by the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH) - Legionnaires’ disease: lockdown risks and reopening safely.

The risk of air conditioning spreading coronavirus is extremely low.  If you use a centralised ventilation system that removes and circulates air to different rooms, it is recommended that you turn off recirculation and use a fresh air supply. 

You do not need to adjust other types of air conditioning systems. If you’re unsure, speak to your heating ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) engineers or advisers.  Good ventilation is encouraged to help reduce the risk of spreading coronavirus. 

If your workplace has been closed for an extended period and has air conditioning units that have a source of water that can generate aerosol, you will however need to assess the risks of legionella being present within them before restarting. 

There may be potential challenges when carrying out legal requirements for a thorough examination and testing (TE&T) of plant and equipment as a result of additional precautions people need to take to help reduce the risk of transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19). 

The law for Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations (LOLER) and Pressure Systems Safety Regulations (PSSR) remain in place. 
You must ensure that your work plant and equipment are and remain safe to use.   

HSE has provided advice to help duty holders ensure that their work plant and equipment remain safe to use and to guide decision making to see if TE&T requirements can still be met. For information visit the HSE website

Remote working should remain the default position for those who can. Those whose job relies on being the office can be asked to return, assuming safe working practices have been implemented. 
 
 

You must only report cases of COVID-19 matters arising out of or in connection with work under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013 (RIDDOR) under the following circumstances:   

  • an unintended incident at work has led to someone’s possible or actual exposure to coronavirus. This must be reported as a dangerous occurrence. 
  • a worker has been diagnosed as having COVID-19 and there is reasonable evidence that it was caused by exposure at work. This must be reported as a case of disease. 
  • a worker dies as a result of occupational exposure to coronavirus. 

Employers need to have reasonable evidence that the COVID-19 element is work-related.  More information is available from HSE: RIDDOR reporting. 

 

Handwashing 

Staff should be trained to wash their hands properly following an effective handwashing technique [to wash hands for the required 20 seconds with soap and water]. The importance of thorough and effective handwashing must be reinforced throughout your premises. Every wash hand basin must have access to hot water and be equipped with liquid hand soap and disposable paper towels. 
It is important to follow an effective handwashing technique to ensure that no areas of your hands are missed.  The same technique should be followed when using hand sanitisers. Commonly missed areas are fingertips and thumbs. 

Hand sanitisers 

The use of hand sanitiser should not be used as a substitute for effective handwashing.   Strict and frequent hand hygiene should be ensured, with alcohol-based hand sanitisers being used when hand washing is not available. 
Hand sanitiser dispensers should not be placed above or close to potential sources of ignition, such as light switches and electrical outlets due to the increased risk of vapours igniting. 

Staff should be advised to let their hands completely dry and the vapours disperse after using alcohol hand sanitiser.  Staff should also be advised not to smoke immediately after use.  
As part of your risk assessment, concerning fires, consideration should be given to the location of dispensers, the storage of stock, and the disposal of used containers/dispensers.

Face coverings 

Wearing of face coverings must not be used as an alternative to physical distancing, handwashing and respiratory hygiene.   
The Government has stated that it does not expect to see employers relying on face coverings as risk management for their health and safety assessments.  Therefore, we will not accept the wearing of masks or face coverings as a control instead of physical distancing for the protection of employees working in an establishment, where physical distancing is manageable (e.g. not manageable in care homes). 
If a face mask (PPE) was required for your job before, because of dust, etc., you must ensure your employees are still provided with sufficient supplies for them to carry out their role safely. 

Taking employees’ temperature

Relying on taking the temperature of employees alone is not a robust control, as it will only detect people who have a fever (i.e. a higher than normal body temperature).  It cannot detect whether someone is infected with COVID-19. 
Just like face coverings above, we will not accept the taking of temperatures of staff at the start of their working day as a control instead of implementing proper physical distancing, where it is achievable, and high standards of premises cleanliness and staff hygiene.  Discuss symptoms with employees before they start every shift, and check whether they – or any person they live with – are experiencing any symptoms related to COVID-19.   
 

There is a wealth of information available on the NHS Inform website about the symptoms of COVID-19 and what you should do if you think you have any of these symptoms.  This advice is available in several languages on the website. 
If an employee attends work displaying any of the symptoms:  

  • A new continuous cough 
  • A high temperature  
  • A loss of or change in sense of taste or smell  

They should be sent home straight away to self-isolate.  They should minimise contact with others and use a private vehicle to travel home.  If private transport is not possible then they should be advised to return home quickly and directly.  If they need clinical advice, they should go online to NHS 111 or call 111 if they do not have access to the internet.  

If another member of staff had helped someone displaying these symptoms they do not need to go home unless they start displaying symptoms themselves.  They should however wash their hands thoroughly for 20 seconds after any contact with someone unwell with symptoms consistent with Coronavirus infection. 

Cleaning and disinfection should be carried out after a possible case has left the workplace. 

Guidance on appropriate environmental decontamination can be found at the Health Protection Scotland website. 


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