Food and safety advice for businesses

Takeaway and delivery businesses

Environmental Health, latest update

All businesses where customers are meant to eat or drink on the premises are now closed.

If you sell food for takeaway or delivery, you can keep trading. However, there are things you must do to reduce the risk of infection.

This guidance also applies if you plan to change the way your business runs to offer a takeaway or delivery service.

If you, or any of your staff or their immediate households, suffer any of the symptoms that might be those of Coronavirus infection, you must consider closing your business.

You may sell food to take away or for delivery until 23:00hrs. You need a Late Night Catering Licence to trade later than this.

Protecting your staff

You have a duty under the Health and Safety at Work Act to protect your staff, including delivery drivers, from risks to their health. This includes exposing them to the risk of coronavirus infection. You also have a duty to your customers.

Consider putting up sneeze screens to protect your staff from contact with customers.

If you can, try and keep staff who are not immediate family members, separate from each other while they work (by 2 metres/6 feet).

Taking payment

Cash handling carries a risk of transferring the virus.

  • Encourage customers ordering by phone to pay online or over the phone. 
  • Customers wishing to pay cash on delivery must have the exact amount ready, as no change can be given
  • When a customer makes an order by phone, ask if anyone in the household is self-isolating because they are ill or suspect they are ill. If they are, encourage them to pay over the phone.

Delivery drivers

The driver should place the delivery outside the door of the property, knock or ring the doorbell and retreat well back from the door when the customer answers. Or the driver can phone the customer to say the delivery is outside.

Where customers will only pay in cash, cash should be put in a container offered by the driver so that the driver doesn’t handle it.  Or you can provide the driver with disposable gloves. These must be changed after each delivery or cleaned with alcohol gel if the driver keeps them on.

Delivery vehicles

Vehicles must be fit for purpose, and food must not be subjected to potential contamination. Keep the interior of the vehicle clean, and do not transport food with animals or chemicals such as fuel, oil and screen wash.

Check your vehicle insurance to ensure you are covered for business use.

Collection by customers from your premises

To minimise the risk of infecting staff and other customers, you must change the way you serve customers in your business.

Many takeaway premises have small customer areas. It’s not safe for large numbers of customers to wait for their orders in this area. Discourage customers from waiting in your premises or congregating outside. Only allow them to come in and collect.  Do not serve anything to be eaten or drunk on the premises.

Even in larger premises, restrict customers to a number where they can wait at least 2 meters apart from each other. This is likely to be no more than one or two customers at a time. Consider re-arranging the space to restrict customer numbers and movements. Marking the customer area floor to show the safe separation distance can help.

Encourage customers to pay on-line or use contactless payment.

Food and cash handling

Staff preparing food and those handling money must be different people. Staff handling money should wear protective gloves and wash them frequently.

Clean and disinfect surfaces that customers come into contact with – door handles, counters and payment terminals – more often.

Place notices in your window and on your website explaining why you are taking these measures.

Food safety and personal hygiene

If you don’t normally operate a takeaway or delivery service, your existing menu may not be suitable. Limit the range of your products to those that can be easily prepared and portioned, and are suitable for putting into containers for delivery. 

There is no evidence at present that coronavirus presents a special risk of being transmitted in food. Your normal food safety controls – personal hygiene, preventing cross contamination and cooking properly – still apply.

Proper personal hygiene is important. Proper hand washing is the most effective method of reducing the risk of transmission.  Hand gels are not a substitute for proper hand washing and drying. Any business without the means for staff to wash their hands properly will be made to close.

When the health service is under extreme pressure from the pandemic, do not allow your business to add to this burden with avoidable food poisoning cases.


  • Hot food being delivered must be in an insulated box en-route so that it keeps hot.
  • Chilled food being delivered must be kept in a different insulated box – with cool packs - so that it keeps cold.
  • Food should be delivered no more than 20 minutes after preparation.
  • All food must be put into covered leak proof food safe containers at the premises before delivery.


If customers are ordering by phone, ask if anyone eating the food has any allergies. 

  • Make a note of their requirements and ensure their food is prepared safely, and clearly labelled. 
  • Food prepared for allergic customers should be stored separately and kept separate during delivery.

Relaxation of planning use

The Scottish Government has relaxed planning rules to help pubs and restaurants during the pandemic. For the next 12 months, premises without planning permission to operate as takeaways providing hot food and drink will be allowed to do so. 

If you wish to do this, you must inform our planning team by email: 

Include the name of your premises, full address, your contact details, and the date you intend to start offering takeaways.

Sale of alcohol

  • You can only do customer takeaway or delivery of alcohol if your premises has a liquor licence
  • Your licence will state if it covers “off-sales” “on-sales” or “both” in the appropriate section.
  • You cannot sell alcohol outside of the times in your premises operating plan, before 10 am or after 10 pm. 
  • No alcohol deliveries are allowed after 12 pm. 
  • You must keep records of what you deliver and where you delivered it to. 
  • When delivering alcohol always ensure that ID checks are still carried out and that alcohol is not given to anyone under the age of 18.

Check our licensing pages or contact the licensing team for advice:

More information

If you need more detailed advice or have questions, contact Environmental Health: