Visiting shops and hospitality

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 customer/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. 

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.

The Protect Scotland App 

The Protect Scotland app is now available. The Scottish Government is urging all smartphone users across Scotland to download NHS Scotland’s new contact tracing app to help suppress the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). It lets people know if they have been in close contact with someone who later tests positive. It can be downloaded for free onto a smart phone from Apple's App Store or Google Play.  

Supported by a dedicated Protect Scotland website,  the app is an extra tool complementing existing person-to-person contact tracing which remains the main component of NHS Scotland’s Test and Protect system.  

Social Gatherings 

From Monday 14 September there are revised social gathering rules: 6 people from up to 2 households can meet socially. (Under 12s from the 2 households are not counted within this limit). This applies in all locations – for example at home, in hospitality or outdoors in a park or garden. Limited exemptions apply. 

The attendance limit for weddings, funerals and civil partnerships remains at 20. Receptions and wakes are permitted in regulated settings (e.g. hospitality venues) also with a limit of 20 people. 

Mandatory face coverings 

A face-covering can be any covering of the mouth and nose that is made of cloth or other textiles and through which you can breathe. 

Religious face-coverings that cover the mouth and the nose count as face coverings for these purposes. 

A face visor on its own is no longer considered to be a face-covering and so if one is worn, a face covering (as above) must also be worn.


  • A face covering must be worn by all people using a shop, which is any indoor establishment that offers goods or services for sale or hire when the shop is open. 
  • You do not need to wear a face covering in hospitality premises such as cafes, coffee shops, restaurants, or pubs. (Face coverings do have to be worn for take-aways services) 
  • It is strongly recommended that staff wear face coverings even when 2m physical distancing is applied. However, there is an exemption for staff where 2m physical distancing or Perspex screens are in place. 
  • Face coverings are mandatory in indoor hospitality venues for staff and customers when not eating and drinking (eg when entering a venue). 


A face covering must be worn by all passengers and staff or operators in the following settings:

  • taxi and private hire vehicles
  • bus stations, railway stations (including open-air stations) and airports
  • ferry services (unless the ferry is open to the elements and physical distancing can be achieved, or the vessel is large enough that physical distancing can be achieved)
  • airline services

Other Public Places 

Face coverings must be worn in: 

  • aquariums, indoor zoos or visitor farms, and any other indoor tourist, heritage or cultural site,  
  • banks, building societies, credit unions and post offices, 
  • cinemas, 
  • community centres, 
  • crematoriums and funeral directors premises, 
  • libraries and public reading rooms, museums and galleries, 
  • places of worship, 
  • storage and distribution facilities, including collection and drop off points. 

Face covering exemptions 

Some people are not required to wear a face covering.

These include:

  • children under 5 years of age
  • police constables or workers such as paramedics acting in the course of their duty 
  • staff such as drivers or checkout assistants who are physically separated, by means of, for example, screens, from passengers or customers
  • shop workers if they maintain a 2-metre distance from customers or members of the public

You may also have a reasonable excuse not to wear a face covering if, for example:
you have a health condition or you are disabled and a face covering would be inappropriate because it would cause difficulty, pain, or severe distress or anxiety or because you cannot apply a covering and wear it correctly, safely, and consistently. Individual discretion should be applied in considering the use of face coverings for other children including, for example, children with breathing difficulties and disabled children who would struggle to wear a face covering

  • you need to eat or drink
  • you are taking medication
  • you are communicating with someone else who relies on lip reading
  • a relevant person, such as a police officer, asks you to remove your face covering

The collection of customer and visitor details 

From Friday 14th August it will be mandatory for hospitality businesses, to collect customer details.

Other services are following guidance from the Scottish government.

You will be asked to provide your name and contact telephone number. Details will also be taken of the time and date of your arrival and departure. These details will be kept for 21 days. This is to ensure that the Test and Protect system can function as effectively as possible.

Details will be requested if you are visiting any of the following:

  • 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.

Failure to provide contact details may mean that you are refused to be served.

You will not be requested to provide contact details for take-away services.

What are the physical distancing requirements that businesses are required to put in place?  

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 under 12 years old)
  • 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

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 or 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.

Remember that some people, for example, those with sight loss, autism, learning disabilities, dementia or other communication or mobility needs might find physical distancing rules more difficult to follow than others. Please be considerate by giving way when you’re out and about. 

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

The Scottish Government has issued new statutory guidance relating to indoor hospitality.  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. 

When you visit a hospitality business you may notice that:

  • There are signs at the entrance and throughout the building advising that you are in a 1 metre physical distancing zone.
  • You have to pre-book tables in advance.
  • There is no queueing outside. If, for any reason there is a queue, you should be physically distanced
  • They will be collecting and keeping your contact details.
  • Inside, people will all be seated and there will be table service only.
  • Customers will not be permitted, to dance, to stand together to watch football or to queue at the bar.  
  • There will be no background music – or volume from the TV.  This is to ensure that you do not have to shout or lean into each other to be heard.
  • Face coverings must be worn by staff and customers when they are entering or moving around inside hospitality premises. 

The Scottish Government have issued guidance for customers visiting hospitality premises. They explain what you should do and what to expect when you visit them. The Scottish Government have said that “going to hospitality premises will not feel the same as it used to do”.

How do I report a  business  breaching  the regulations?  

If you have concerns about a business in Aberdeen that is not complying with the regulations, you can report your concern to the Protective Services team via our online form.

We will investigate your concerns and where necessary deal with the business using powers contained in The Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Restrictions) (Scotland) Regulations 2020. 

If you have any concerns about people gathering in public or not wearing face coverings in shops and on public transport, please contact Police Scotland on 101. 

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