Food and safety advice for businesses

Reopening your business during the pandemic

As a Food Business Operator (FBO), you must consider these measures when you re-open a business closed because of pandemic restrictions.

Contact Environmental Health to let them know you plan to re-open:

Refer to the Scottish Government website:

Get your premises ready

Reopening checklist

Use this checklist to help reopen your business safely (PDF)

Check your water supply

If the water in your premises hasn’t been run for some time, it may have stagnated in the pipework and any storage tanks. This increases the risk of Legionella bacteria growing in the system. 

Find advice about assessing and dealing with the risk of Legionella.  

Check the condition of your premises

Walk through the premises to ensure it’s in good repair, and that no damage has occurred during the closure. Check all essential equipment is operating properly and in good condition.

Deep clean and disinfect your equipment, the premises, fixtures and fittings. 

Pay close attention to all hand contact points and communal areas such staff rooms, changing rooms and toilets.

You will need to clean your premises more often once opened again, to control the spread of coronavirus. Make sure you have enough cleaning materials available, and that the cleaners are suitable for use against viruses.

Products bearing the EN 14476:2019 standard should be effective against enveloped viruses (although not specifically the COVID-19 virus. 

Hand washing facilities must be working properly before the business re-opens.

Stock check/food disposal

  • Dispose of out of date stock, the contents of refrigerators, and any partially used food items.
  • Check that refrigerators are still working properly before restocking.
  • If any food has defrosted in freezers, discard it.
  • Renew oil in fryers.
  • Arrange to have waste food removed from your premises by your contractor as soon as possible.

Pest Control 

Pests may have appeared in your premises while it was closed.

  • Check the premises and stored food thoroughly for pest activity.
  • Deal with any pests before re-opening.

Protect your staff and customers

Operating under The Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Restrictions) (Scotland) Regulations 2020

These Regulations remain in force as the lock-down moves through different Scottish Government Phases.

You must take reasonable measures to:

  • Keep staff 2 metres apart
  • Keep customers on your premises 2 metres apart
  • Keep customers waiting to enter the premises 2 metres apart

 “Reasonable measures” are things like:

  • Changing the operation and layout and workflows of your premises to do this.
  • Where it’s not possible to keep people 2 metres apart - such as at tills or a serving counter - put up screens to separate staff and customers, or staff working alongside staff.
  • Restricting numbers of staff and customers in the premises at the same time.
  • Putting up information signs for customer and staff about your controls.
  • Putting signs and markings on floors inside and outside the premises showing 2 metre spacing.

Food Standards Scotland have a generic risk assessment tool to help you review facilities and workflow:

See also the Scottish Government’s guidance including business sector guidance for easing lockdown.

Detailed guidance from the Scottish Government and Food Standards Scotland:

Using screens, signs and marking tapes may help you implement such measures.

Guidance on workplace safety, including industry specific guidance:

Infection Control

No one with symptoms of coronavirus should be at work.

Make sure your staff know the symptoms to look out for, and understand about self isolation if they are ill.

Details on infection control, and cleaning and disinfection:

Personal hygiene

Regular hand washing with soap and water for 20 seconds and drying hands with paper towels can control spread of the coronavirus.

Staff must have access to functioning hand washing facilities, soap and paper towels at all times.

Alcohol based hand sanitiser gels can be used in addition to hand washing, but it is important to note that they only work on visibly clean hands.

Alcohol gels are not a substitute for hand washing.

Face-coverings offer only a marginal reduction in the spread of the coronavirus. If your staff are using them make sure they understand how use and dispose of them properly.

Disposable gloves are not an alternative to hand washing in a food business.

Customers can be encouraged to use a hand sanitiser on entry to the premises.

More guidance on handwashing:

Cleaning/sanitising during operation

You will need to clean and disinfect more often.

Increase the frequency of your ongoing cleaning/disinfecting to at least every two hours, particularly for hand contact surfaces and worktops. Key touch points include things like:

  • worktops
  • door handles
  • grab-rails in corridors
  • stairwells
  • keypads
  • vending machines.

Also clean and disinfect any screens you have put in to protect staff.

Use a disposable cloth, clean hard surfaces with warm soapy water then disinfect these surfaces with the cleaning products you normally use.

Take care with equipment connected to the electricity supply.

Food collection and deliveries

Ensure physical distancing is maintained during food collections and deliveries. Consider how you might achieve this e.g. encourage contact-free delivery, phone orders and staggered collection times. 

If you introduce a food delivery service as a new aspect, ensure you consider temperature control and vehicle cleanliness during transit.

Food safety management system and staff training

There is no change to the rule that you have a Food Safety Management system (FSMS) for your business.

You will have to update your FSMS to take account of changes required when working under coronavirus restrictions.

Make sure all staff are properly trained in the new procedures to control coronavirus spread.

Heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems (HVAC)

Increasing the ventilation in your premises will help dilute and disperse any coronavirus in the air.

If you open windows to do this, make sure they are pest-proofed.

If you have a ventilation/extraction system, make sure it is not in recirculation mode.

Keep the extraction system running whenever there are people in your premises.

The Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE) have recommendations about COVID-19 related ventilation: