"Non-essential" retail in Scotland – when and how do you reopen?

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When can "non-essential" shops reopen in Scotland?

Qualifying "non-essential" shops may reopen from Monday 29 June 2020

What "non-essential" shops qualify to reopen on 29 June?

Initially, only those that have an outdoor customer entrance/exit(s).

"Non-essential" shops which are accessed from an indoor access point (for example, shops in an indoor shopping centre) may not open until Phase 3. The Scottish Government has announced an indicative date of 13 July for the reopening of "non-essential" shops inside shopping centres. 

Note that there is a change to the previous plan of only allowing retail units with a sales area of less than 800 square metres to reopen at this stage. There is no longer to be a size limit. 

It is important to remember that shopping centres may remain open for essential shops, which are those listed in Part 3 of Schedule 1 of the Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Restrictions) (Scotland) Regulations 2020 and include supermarkets, chemists, banks, post offices, bike shops, hardware shops, launderettes and newsagents.

The Scottish Government has set an indicative reopening date of 15 July for hairdressers and barbers. A reopening date for other personal retail services is to be announced in due course, once the Scottish Government has received further public health advice.

Preliminary obligations on businesses

Existing obligations

All existing health and safety duties imposed by the various regulations and obligations to make reasonable adjustments to premises for disabled customers still need to be complied with. Systems and processes will need to be adapted to deal with the new way that we are working and living. While this existing regulatory framework is unaffected by COVID-19, the practical steps that need to be taken to comply with these may look different now that the risk of passing on the virus (and resultant importance of hygiene and physical distance) is heightened. This means that all risk assessments, not just COVID-19 specific ones, should be reviewed to ensure they factor in the additional infection risk posed by the virus. Any changes which are identified should be implemented before premises reopen.

Any action taken in relation to employees must also comply with employment law. 

New COVID-19 obligations

In terms of regulation 4 of the Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Restrictions) (Scotland) Regulations 2020, a person who is responsible for carrying on a business (which includes an owner, proprietor or manager) must take all reasonable measures to ensure that: 

  1. a distance of two metres is maintained between any persons on the premises (except between members of the same household, or a carer and the person assisted by the carer (known as the "same household"));
  2. they only admit people to its premises in sufficiently small numbers to make it possible to maintain that distance; and
  3. a distance of two metres is maintained between any person waiting to enter the premises (except between members of the same household).

For further guidance on this, please refer to the Scottish Government's guidance on physical distancing.

The Scottish Government is currently reviewing the two metre rule and expects to provide an update on this by 2 July. The update will also confirm whether face coverings are to be made mandatory in shops. In the meantime, the Scottish Government has joined with the retail sector in a campaign to promote and encourage the use of face coverings in shops.

Practical operational guidance and checklists for retailers

As a minimum requirement for good practice, please consult and follow the Scottish Government's operational guide and checklist for retailers, and retail sector guidance.

Please also consult and follow the British Retail Consortium's guidance on social distancing in retail stores and warehouses, where appropriate.

Information contained in our COVID-19 articles and publications is correct at the time of print. This is, however, a constantly evolving situation across the globe and specific advice and guidance should be sought as required.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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