The Scottish Government has made new regulations on social distancing for premises in Scotland, the Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Restrictions) (Scotland) Amendment (No. 2) Regulations 2020. They extend the statutory obligations to implement social distancing measures to many premises which had been, up until now, subject only to Government guidance.

Previous position

Until 21 April, there was no general statutory obligation to implement social distancing measures in premises. Rather, the Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Restrictions) (Scotland) Regulations 2020 listed specific types of premises which had to implement such measures. These were generally customer facing businesses and included food and drink shops, takeaways and car garages. Provision was also made for social distancing in places of worship, community centres and crematoriums.

Of course, Scottish Government guidance suggested that social distancing measures should be implemented across all business premises.

Position as of 21 April

The Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Restrictions) (Scotland) Amendment (No. 2) Regulations 2020 were made on 21 April 2020 and came into force immediately.

Rather than identifying specific types of business premises which have to implement social distancing, the new provisions impose a general obligation on "any person" who is responsible for "carrying on a business or providing a service" to implement social distancing measures on their premises.

The new provisions affect premises (including office buildings and construction sites) which had, until 21 April, not been under specific statutory obligations in relation to social distancing.

The only exception to this extension of obligations relates to burial grounds. Until 21 April they had been required to implement social distancing measures: the new provisions relieve them of this obligation.

What social distancing measures have to be taken?

For all premises subject to the requirement to implement social distancing measures, the steps they must take are the same. They must "take all reasonable measures" to:

  1. ensure that a distance of two metres is maintained between people in their premises;
  2. ensure that a distance of two metres is maintained between people waiting to enter their premises;
  3. only admitting a sufficiently small number of people to their premises so as to facilitate a distance of two metres between them while within.

There are exceptions to the 'two-metre rule' for persons of the same household, and for carers and the person they are assisting.

Implementing social distance measures

How each business implements the social distancing measures will depend on its circumstances. The steps that require to be taken by, for example, an office may be different from those for a construction site.