Easing of lockdown for town centres

COVID-19 Protection Levels - Argyll and Bute is at Level 2

Phase 3 - Reopening of non-essential retail shops in shopping centres, and indoor hospitality

This guidance outlines some key issues for business to consider as you plan to reopen in accordance with the Scottish Government’s decisions and Scotland’s route map update of 9th July, available online at this link: https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-framework-decisio...

The guidance should be read in conjunction with business and general advice on COVID-19 on the Scottish Government’s website, and is intended to provide a local perspective. It does not replace it.

Advice for food businesses

Food businesses play a major role in Argyll and Bute’s economy. Many have continued to operate throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, but some will be starting to open up over the coming days and weeks.

To provide support for restarting business operations, our Environmental Health Team has put together guidance from a range of trusted sources that will assist your business to provide a COVID-secure environment for staff and customers.

Food Standards Scotland provides guidelines for food business operators, including a Risk Assessment Tool for restarting business operations.

General guidance to food business operators’ on COVID-19


It important that we all prepare for the time when businesses can open, and the council are no different. This will be very difficult and with public health physical distancing measures will significantly impact on how businesses can operate, with reduced capacity and new operating procedures. Businesses should make plans based Scottish Government guidance and using  the industry guides and at present they exist for various sectors (retail guide  and tourism and hospitality guide.)

In phase 3, the council perceives that there may continue to be issues with businesses wishing to reopen around the management of queues for customers who may need to wait outside the business premises and also those wishing to use existing outside seating areas, particularly those which are on pavement areas.

There is a potential that with physical distancing this will restrict the use of pavements and this matter requires careful consideration. A working group has been established to consider these issues, involving the Council, Business Groups, Police Scotland  and Transport Scotland so we are able to respond to business enquiries and specific issues as easing of lockdown occurs.

Further information to follow, and meantime, we advise businesses to:

How do I plan to reopen?

  • Take your time to plan to reopen having regard to sectoral guides. The responsibility is on business owners to have appropriate measure to ensure safe physical distancing measures are in place for employees, customers and those who may be affected by your business.
  • Use the assessment forms in the industry guidance. The retail one is accessed via this link.
  • Discuss proposals with your employees to ensure that they are protected and  your plans are workable
  • We would encourage businesses to engage as early as possible with other businesses in their area as well as Argyll and Bute Council to mitigate risks to customers and pedestrians using premises and streets via roadsandinfrastructure@argyll-bute.gov.uk.

How do I plan for queues outside my premises?

  • Businesses will need to think outside the normal trading environment to implement innovative measures such as numbering systems, changed opening hours to manage queues, click and collect through appointment times or other measures. Businesses must take all reasonable measures to ensure that there is physical distancing within queuing systems, including use of tape to mark distances etc.
  • You are encouraged to liaise with nearby and adjoining premises to manage shared queueing areas on your ground or on pavements to ensure that social distancing measures are in place, yet ensuring that the pavement is available for  other members of the public If this will be a problem you need to raise with the council via envhealth@argyll-bute.gov.uk.  
  • You are encouraged to remove any “A-board” advertising or other items you may have (e.g. benches, flower post etc.) which are located on pavements/footways, which may hinder queues or passing pedestrians in the short-term
  • Read the guidance for queueing outside on pavements.

I want to use my outdoor seating area for customers?

  • If it’s existing, consider the space and identify what the reviewed operating capacity will be, and the layout of table and chairs. Consider how you will manage the area and provide a service ensuring that physical distancing measures are in place
  • Consider what changes this makes to your operating plan if you are licensed premises and discuss with the licensing standards officer
  • CONSIDER, whether this will impact on pedestrians being able to safely use the pavement. Can you eliminate these risks by the design and use of your outdoor area? If not, contact the council to discuss

I want to apply to use a new area for outdoor seating?

  • You will need permission from the council to use any new areas. You can apply via publicspaces@argyll-bute.gov.uk . If you are licensed premise you need to apply for consent from the Licensing Board

What are the council and others doing to support business on these issues?

  • We will assess your new operating procedures and enforce the Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Restrictions) Regulations 2020, through the Councils Regulatory Services. Our enforcement strategy is to Engage, Educate, Encourage and Enforce. You are signposted to national and industry guidance. For specific advice contact envhealth@argyll-bute.gov,uk
  • We will continue to assess the impact of queueing outside premises in town centres and what actions can be taken to minimise the impact of queueing and the impact of outdoor seating areas. Whilst we have issued guidance to businesses, we are consulting on a range of temporary options which may include use of existing car parking bays as an extension to pavements in the short term
  • We have produced information materials for businesses to download and use
  • Many local businesses will struggle to open when social distancing is still a requirement.  To help this situation, a number of public realm sites, across Argyll and Bute, will be made available on a temporary basis to established businesses, free of charge, in a bid to help the local  economy quickly and safely. Please see below for further information on how to apply to use these spaces

Public spaces available

Some local businesses may struggle to open when social distancing is still a requirement.  To help this situation, a number of public realm sites, across Argyll and Bute, will be made available on a temporary basis to established businesses, free of charge, in a bid to help open up the area’s economy quickly and safely.

Short-term use of these spaces could include external seating areas for cafés, licensed premises, outdoor markets and other uses which would support economic activity. Further sites may be identified in the future, but the council is offering an initial number of sites. Businesses are also encouraged to advise the council of any other proposals they may have to utilise pavement space or on-street parking spaces for example, so these can be considered through the application process. Completed application forms should be returned  to publicspaces@argyll-bute.gov.uk

Download the application form here

Businesses using the spaces will still be required to meet all statutory requirements that the business must normally meet whether environmental health, food safety, licensing, road safety, and public order etc. So, for that reason, some sites may be restricted for specific use or uses. The requirement for planning consent to expand into the public realm has also been relaxed subject to a successful application and the works being temporary.

Space is currently available in Helensburgh, Oban, Rothesay and Dunoon - details of the locations are listed on the application form.

Next Steps