Information for businesses

Covid-19 – Regulations  

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 and Requirements) (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 businesses on this page in response to evolving government guidance.  

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

Job Support Scheme 

The UK Government has today (Thursday 24 September) announced a new Jobs Support Scheme to replace the furlough scheme. 

More information can be found in our Frequently Asked Questions.

Businesses in Scotland which remain closed

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

  • soft play centres 

  • nightclubs 

  • indoor 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. 

Physical distancing for business, services, and places of worship

All businesses, services and places of worship must take measures to ensure, where reasonably practicable

  • The required distance is maintained between any persons on the premises (except for members of the same household or persons and their carers or between school pupils)
  • They only admit people in sufficiently small numbers to make the required distance possible
  • The required distance in any queue to enter the premises is maintained

Other measures need to be taken to minimise the covid-19 risk including:

  • changing the layout
  • controlling use of entrances or shared facilities
  • installing screens
  • use of PPE and signage

The required distance

For some premises known as ‘reduced distance premises’, it is at least 1m whilst for all other premises, it is 2m. 

And reduced distance premises are:

  • Passenger transport service premises (bus stations, train stations, etc);
  • Premises used for the retail sale or hire of goods (i.e. shops) and including restaurants, cafes, bars, and pubs.

A business can move to the reduced 1m distance only if it has ‘mitigation measures’ in place.

The mandatory collection of customer and visitor details in hospitality businesses 

From Friday 14 August new regulations make it mandatory for restaurants, cafes, bars, public houses and hotels in which food or drink is sold for consumption on the premises, to take measures to:

  • obtain and record visitor information,
  • record visitor information in a filing system suitable for recording, storing and retrieving such information,
  • retain visitor information for at least 21 days from the date on which the visit occurred.

They must collect

  • the name and telephone number of one member of each household visiting the premises,
  • the date of their visit and arrival and departure times,
  • together with a note of the number of any members of that person’s household visiting the premises at the same time.

They must provide the visitor information to a public health officer, as soon as reasonably practicable but within 24 hours of it being requested.

It is a criminal offence not to comply with these regulations.

The Scottish Government have published guidance on the collection of customer details.

The requirement to collect customer and visitor details in other premises

So that the test and protect system can function as effectively as possible the following services should continue to follow guidance from the Scottish Government and collect and store customer details:

  • 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

The requirements do not 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. 

Exemption to the required 2 metre physical distance rules in hospitality premises 

The Scottish Government has issued new statutory guidance relating to indoor hospitality. Hospitality businesses must have regard to this guidance. The aim is to ensure greater compliance with some of the key public health measures – such as physical distancing. Police Scotland and the local Protective Services team will, if necessary, enforce compliance with these measures.

Hospitality services, such as pubs, restaurants, and cafes may operate within the reduced 1m physical distance rules. If they do, they must ensure that there are additional mitigating measures in place to reduce the risks of operating at 1m as opposed to 2m. 

  • Hospitality businesses must be closed at 10pm
  • There must be clear signage displayed at entry points and throughout the premises to inform customers that they are within a 1 metre physical distancing zone.
  • Premises must collect and keep customer details. (see the Mandatory Collection of Customer Details above)
  • Wherever possible, people should pre-book tables in advance.  And there should be no queueing. 
  • People should be seated, with table service.
  • Customers should not be standing together to watch football, dancing, or queuing at the bar. 
  • There should be no queueing outside. If it is unavoidable for any reason, those in queues should be physically distanced.  
  • There should be no background music – or volume from the TV. To ensure that people do not have to shout or lean into each other to be heard.
  • Face coverings are mandatory for customers and staff in indoor hospitality. There will be an exemption for when customers are eating and drinking. Staff in non-public facing roles, such as kitchen staff, are also exempt where face coverings may present health and safety issues due to the nature of roles. Exemptions for vulnerable groups/individuals also apply.

Enforcement

Trading Standards and Environmental Health officers from the Protective Services team will be employing a robust enforcement approach.

Officers will be visiting hospitality businesses during busy periods and will take immediate action if it is required. 

Enforcement Options:

  • Prohibition Notices may be issued to the business under the Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Restrictions and Requirements) (Scotland) Regulations or the Health & Safety at Work Etc Act.
  • Fixed Penalty Notices may be issued by officers from Police Scotland 
  • A report may be submitted to the Procurator Fiscal.
  • We may object to Occasional Licences.
  • We may recommend that any permissions to use public spaces are revoked. 
  • We may instigate a Public Health Review of the Licence.

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

Table service is required in all hospitality settings. There should be no queueing at bar areas.  

Only public facing, front of house staff are required to wear face coverings. There is an exemption for staff who are more than 2 metres away from the public or are behind a suitable screen, so this covers the likes of kitchen staff and back of house roles.

From Friday 14 August new regulations make it mandatory for restaurants, cafes, bars, public houses, and hotels, to take measures to:

  • obtain and record visitor information,
  • record visitor information in a filing system suitable for recording, storing and retrieving such information,
  • retain visitor information for at least 21 days from the date on which the visit occurred.

They must collect:

  • the name and telephone number of one member of each household visiting the premises,
  • the date of their visit and arrival and departure times,
  • together with a note of the number of any members of that person’s household visiting the premises at the same time.
  • They must provide the visitor information to a public health officer, as soon as reasonably practicable but within 24 hours of it being requested.

It is a criminal offence not to comply with these regulations.
 

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.

Hospitality premises can now re-open in Aberdeen but must first book an assessment with the Environmental Health and Trading Standards. The form to book your assessment is above these questions and answers.

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. 

When operating a business from your home that part of your house used for the business is trade premise and therefore the business can continue. 

It will continue to be subject to the appropriate health measures. If you are operating a business such as beauty/hairdressing you must follow the appropriate sector guidance. https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-retail-sector-guidance


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