Changes to Scottish Government Guidance on physical distancing have been announced this afternoon. It is anticipated that these will commence concurrently with the beginning of phase 3 of the Scottish Government Route Map - which is itself presently scheduled to commence at the end of next week.
The new guidance advises that exceptions will be introduced to allow premises in specified sectors to operate within a 1 metre distance, subject to agreed mitigations being implemented. The move follows today's publication of the Government's Covid-19 Advisory Group's paper on Physical Distancing, and Scottish Government's consideration of the harms caused by the 2 metre requirement, including the adverse economic effect.
The Guidance stresses that the current 2 metre distance will remain the default requirement in Phase 3, and that even sectors that are provided with this relaxation will not necessarily have that relaxation applied on a blanket basis.
At present it is anticipated however that the following sectors will qualify for the exception
- Public Transport
- Outdoor hospitality
- Indoor hospitality
- Retail (including personal retail services)
Businesses to whom the exceptions will apply will of course require to risk assess their operations for the new distance, and implement controls accordingly. The Guidance emphasises the expectation that adequate resource and training will be applied in doing so.
Further any business moving to the 1 metre distance will also require to effectively communicate the change e.g. by clear signage, so that users are aware of both the potentially increased transmission risk and also the mitigations that should be in place.
Whilst mitigations will vary according to sector involved, the Government has indicated that they are likely to include: improved ventilation; use of perspex screens; regulation of customer flow; restrictions on music in hospitality sections; seating plans that reduce transmission risk; and obtaining customer details for contact tracing purposes.
The Guidance also provides a table that illustrates potentially which mitigations might be required in the retail, hospitality and transport sectors.
Examples of mitigations (not exhaustive)
· One-way systems
· Staggering arrival and departure times of staff
· Contactless payments
· Signage, tannoy announcements
· Hand sanitation facilities at entry and exit points and common areas
· Mandatory face coverings
· Screens to create a physical barrier between people, for example at till points
· Supply of hand sanitiser for employees
· Increased ventilation
· No standing – all customers seated
· Face coverings by staff
· Clear systems for safe ordering and payments
· Clear systems for safe use of toilet facilities
· Use of screens between seating areas
· Good ventilation
· Good signage
· Reduced noise measures e.g. no background music, to reduce need for customers to shout
· Clear messaging on need to provide contact details to support Test & Protect
· Back-to-back or face-to-back seating
· Enhanced ventilation
· Perspex screens (in some situations)
· Mounted sanitizers, wipes and bins
Face Coverings in Retail Premises
The First Minister has also announced that from the expected start of Phase 3 the wearing of face coverings will also be mandatory in shops. As with the requirement for wearing face coverings on public transport, there will be exemptions for children under 5 and people with certain medical conditions.