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Tourism and Hospitality - mandatory and sector guidance

View guidance for tourism and hospitality sectors businesses during coronavirus:

Level 4 restrictions

Changes to businesses offering takeaway

As announced by the First Minister, as of 16th January 2021, in Level 4 lockdown areas, businesses primarily concerned with the service of food and drink takeaways can only offer the service on a no-indoor entry basis.

This means that customers are not permitted to enter the inside of a premises to collect their purchase and that goods will need to be dispensed in a manner that meets this requirement. For example, this could be via the use of a service hatch, a non-internal counter such as a table across the threshold or passed through a door.

View further information on the restrictions which apply to businesses providing a takeaway service.

Please email Protective Services at if you require further information.


For most hospitality premises in Aberdeenshire, including restaurants, cafes, pubs and bars, Level 4 restrictions will require the business to close for business for the sale of food and drink to be consumed onsite.

If your business has decided to continue trading to provide takeaway meals, view food law guidance.

Hotels may permit accommodation being used to anyone who:

  • is unable to return to their main residence
  • uses the accommodation as their main residence
  • is living in that accommodation for work purposes including key or exempt workers
  • needs accommodation while moving house
  • needs accommodation to attend a funeral and to the homeless or to support services for the homeless

Premises are not permitted to open for the purpose of selling food or drink to members of the public, unless under the following exemptions:

  • Off sales of food and drink continues to be permitted to the public, provided this is detailed in your operating plan, until 10pm - please email if you wish to discuss this further
  • For qualifying residents’ food and non-alcoholic drinks are permitted between 6am and 10pm in public areas, thereafter room service only; alcohol for residents is only permitted as part of room service only
  • Marriage ceremony or civil partnership registrations are permitted with alcohol – with a max number of 20 people including the couple, the witness, and guests, providing the venue’s capacity allows for appropriate physical distancing
  • Funerals and wakes are permitted until 10pm and alcohol is permitted – with a max number of 20 people, providing the venue’s capacity allows for the appropriate physical distancing
  • Wedding or civil partnership receptions are not permitted in Level 4

General guidance for tourism and hospitality

All mitigating measures and COVID-19 risk assessments must remain in place if your business is permitted to continue trading whilst Aberdeenshire remains subject to Level 4 restrictions. Further information can be found below, or please refer to the Scottish Government tourism and hospitality guidance.

Background music

Background music is permitted as of the 12th December 2020. All hospitality businesses must ensure they have in place the necessary arrangements for the safe management of low-level background sound. 

View advice on sound management in hospitality settings (pdf 682KB), prepared by the Institute of Acoustics. 

Further restrictions

  • Customers must provide their contact details to assist in any contact tracing effort following notification of a positive case
  • As per the guidance, individuals must continue to wear face coverings while moving around and when not seated eating or drinking
  • Customer-facing staff must also wear face coverings, and table service must continue
  • Takeaways services, including those from pubs and restaurants, can continue to operate
  • The existing rules which state that a maximum of six people from two households can meet in hospitality venues, either indoors or outdoors still apply
  • Hotels and other accommodation providers can still serve food to guests staying in their premises up to 10pm, after this time, room service, including the sale of alcohol, can continue as normal
  • Alcohol can still be served inside at wedding receptions and funerals up until 10pm due to the exemption in place for ‘life events’, these events are still limited to a maximum of 20 people

Statutory guidance for hospitality services

The Scottish Government has published statutory guidance for the hospitality sector as an addition to existing sector guidance, which requires businesses operating in the hospitality sector, by law, to have regard to this.

The statutory guidance applies to public houses, restaurants, and cafes, including those where they are situated within other premises, such as hotels, visitor attractions and clubs. It applies to indoor and outdoor spaces and will be kept under regular review by the Scottish Government.

Measures to be considered:

View further information on hospitality sector statutory guidance.

Please note, many of these measures will already exist in your risk assessment as they are part of existing guidance, and most businesses will find only minor changes are required to current practices.

Existing additional measures

In line with Scottish Government guidance, the hospitality sector can utilise the one metre physical distancing exemption where they are applying additional mitigating measures. Where the additional mitigation measures cannot be applied, the two metre physical distancing rules apply.

Additional mitigation measures

  • One metre physical distancing
  • Physical distancing, capacity management and no crowding 
  • One metre zone signage
  • Cleaning and hygiene arrangements
  • Management of toilet facilities
  • Limits to households mixing indoors and outdoors
  • Table service – no standing, all customers seated
  • Face coverings for staff but not visitors
  • Improved ventilation
  • Adequate provision of information and staff training

Other measures which you may wish to consider include the requirement for customers to wear face coverings whilst moving around on the premises, for example, when using toilet facilities.

View further information on additional mitigation measures.

The Scottish Government has published a poster with guidance for public on enjoying hospitality settings safely (pdf 1.6MB), which can be printed and displayed within your business.

Collection of contact details to support Trace and Protect

The Scottish Government has made it mandatory for the collection of Trace and Protect information for the purposes of minimising the risk of the incidence and spread of coronavirus. The requirement applies to businesses such as restaurants, cafes, bars, public houses and hotels in which food or drink is sold for consumption on the premises.

Businesses must gather, record and retain minimal contact information from customers, visitors and staff. This information should include:

  • Name
  • Telephone number
  • Date
  • Time of visit and, if possible, departure time
  • Where customers are attending as a small household group, the contact details for one member of each household, a ‘lead member’, will be sufficient alongside the number of people attending from each household

Information must be stored appropriately in line with General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) requirements and the information should be retained for a period of at least 21 days from the date on which the visit occurred.

The NHS have published a poster with information for the public on the Test and Protect requirements (pdf 189KB)which can be printed and displayed within your premise.

View further guidance on the Test and Protect scheme.

Physical distancing

As announced by the First Minister on the 10th September 2020, as of the 14th September, the number of individuals meeting both indoors and outdoors in a domestic and hospitality setting is reduced to 6 individuals with a maximum of 2 separate households meeting at one time. Children under 12 from within the two households are not counted in the new limit of six people.

The requirement to physically distance within a hospitality setting is still required between individuals from different households. Where a business has additional mitigation measures in place to facilitate the 1m physical distancing exemption for hospitality premises, individuals from separate households on the same table must be separated by 1m.

The image below shows a table made up of two separate households within a hospitality setting. Members of each household sit on the two opposite sides of the table (the table between the two households forms the 1m distance). Physical distancing between the different households must always be maintained.

Illustration of physical distancing between two household in a hospitality setting

As demonstrated on the image below, individuals from the same household are not required to physically distance within a hospitality premise. The image shows members of the same household sitting around the table.

Illustration of a table setup for the same household with no physical distancing a hospitality setting

Within a hospitality setting, both staff and customers are required to maintain the 1m physical distancing requirement. Where possible, seating should be arranged back to back rather than side on. The example below shows the physical distancing requirements, maximum table sizes of 6 individuals from 2 separate households which is required as of the 14th September 2020. The image shows there is enough space between the tables for hospitality staff to move around maintaining 1 m distance form all tables.

Illustration of tables setup creating enough space for physical distancing for staff when moving around tables in hospitality setting

Face coverings

As of Monday 14th September 2020, face coverings must be worn in hospitality settings, apart from during the service of food and drink. Individuals should be discouraged from leaving their seat apart from going to the toilet and a face covering should be worn whilst moving around the premise. The mandatory use of face coverings also applies hospitality staff.

Managing queues

There should be no queueing inside premises, such as at bars, and systems should be in place to ensure this does not happen. There is an exception for take-away services where queueing must be managed with physical distancing.

Steps should be taken to avoid queues outside the premises as much as possible but where unavoidable for safety reasons, measures should be taken to ensure physical distancing.

Queues need to be managed by the business. All members of separate households must maintain the appropriate physical distancing:

  • Within premises - 2 metres
  • Outside premises - 2 meters

Where a queue is unavoidable it should be managed appropriately similarly to the diagram below:

Diagram showing 2 metre distance between individuals in a queue

Amusement and game activities

From the 24th August 2020 the use of fruit machines and pool tables is permitted, however, their use must be risk assessed. The equipment should be subject to robust cleaning procedures, ensure physical distancing can be observed and should not be located in thoroughfares. Procedures and customer communications should ensure that no crowding can result from the use of these facilities and that noise levels are kept low with no shouting. 

Customers using pool tables should wear face coverings as this is a requirement in snooker and pool halls. Darts may be played if there is a dedicated space for play away from thoroughfares. This could be a separate room, and should be in a location where there is adequate space to ensure physical distancing along with risk assessed robust cleaning procedures, with no sharing of darts.  Where this is not possible, it will be necessary to refrain from darts play at this time.

Playing dominoes is not possible at this time due to the close proximity of players and the need for sharing of game pieces, which makes this activity too high risk.