Coronavirus Information Hub

Information, updates, support and advice for food and drink businesses impacted by the Coronavirus outbreak.

As the Coronavirus outbreak continues to develop, there is a big collective effort in place to support the industry through an extremely challenging period.

The situation is hugely variable depending on the sector and customer base, with huge disruption in the supply chain, recognising the effective closure of the hospitality market and major disruption to export markets.

Over the last few weeks Scotland Food & Drink, alongside our industry partners, government and individual businesses, has worked through a number of key priorities. Below you’ll find all the latest developments, business and financial support available as well as key resources around workforce and social distancing in the workplace.

Covid-19 - Guidance for food business operators and their employees (29 May 2020)

Food Standards Scotland has developed guidance by outlining ways that physical (social) distancing can be applied in food manufacturing and processing premises, as well as other mitigation measures that can be implemented by these businesses to enable them to adhere to government advice for preventing the spread of Covid-19.

The guidance takes account of revisions in public health advice and feedback received from industry, Scottish Government and Trade Unions since the original version was issued at the start of April. It also reflects Scottish Government’s COVID-19 Framework for Decision Making (Scotlands Route Map through and Out of the Crisis).

It describes measures for preventing the spread of COVID-19 which should be applied by food manufacturing, processing and retail, as well as those food service and catering businesses which are permitted to operate in accordance with the Scottish Government routemap- which is currently restricted to the ‘Food to Go’ sector, including take-away, delivery and drive through services. 

Click here to read the full guidance. 

Updates & Announcements

You’ll find the latest developments here as well as on LinkedIn and Twitter. We issue an update on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. To get the update direct to your inbox, sign up here.

Friday 5 June

The week ends with an important furlough scheme deadline looming next week and continued discussions around key issues such as contact tracing, grant payments and social distancing. The summary is as follows:

Furlough scheme – 10 June deadline for first time ‘furloughers’

As announced a week ago, the furlough scheme will run until October however it starts to change from the end of June. It has been well-publicised that the scheme will close to new entrants on 30 June. However, less well-known is that an employee – to qualify for furlough support from Government from July onwards – must have completed a full three weeks of furlough by 30 June. In other words, the deadline for furloughing an employee for the first time is next Wednesday, 10 June. This nuance in the rules has been poorly publicised, so please consider this quickly if there are staff you think you may have to furlough over the summer or autumn, but that haven’t been furloughed to date. More detail is here

Pivotal Enterprise Resilience Fund (PERF) – an update for those who haven’t heard back on applications

This week we have raised about 20 separate cases of our member companies who have not heard back on the progress of their PERF application, since submitting in early May. Scottish Enterprise has been chasing these up internally for us and they are aiming to give us a progress update shortly. Obviously, the original turnaround time from application to decision was 10 days, but four weeks on from the first applications, some have still not heard. This has been due to the enormous weight of applications and work involved in assessing them (often having to seek additional information). On the upside, £104 million of the total £185 million across the three grant scheme (PERF and two others) has now been paid out. We have asked that a deadline be set so we can tell any of you contacting us when you may hear back on your application. Alternatively, we have asked that a holding email is sent to applicants to reassure businesses that their application is still been worked on. Keep an eye on our Twitter feeds over the weekend for any update (@scotfooddrink and @scotfoodjames)

Contact tracing – what does is mean for your employees?

We still don’t have confirmation of how workplace situations will be dealt with, where a newly infected Covid-19 case identifies his/her work colleagues as potential ‘close contacts’. Our ask is that contact tracers don’t contact employees directly, rather that consideration is taken first of distancing and PPE measures being implemented in the business. I understand that further guidance is being developed on this. Again, we will share as soon as we have it and continue to press for it.

2 metre versus 1 metre – the future of social distancing

The current two metre rule – which is set out in law in Scotland – and continues to be implemented across the UK remains a subject of significant debate. The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends a distant of at least one metre. Many other European countries use either one metre or 1.5 metres as the distancing guidance. As our counterparts at the Scottish Tourism Alliance have pointed out in a letter to Fergus Ewing on the subject, the UK, US and Switzerland are the only countries using two metres as the distancing rule.  Clearly, public health and safety is paramount but understanding the science behind different approaches is important, given this will determine the viability of many hospitality outlets when they re-open as well as the ability of schools to manage a return for pupils. It is also obviously very relevant for how businesses in our sector have reconfigured how they work. We expect the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies to give further advice to UK Government in the next week or so.  Any decision on changes will be devolved to Scotland. We will keep a close eye on this issue next week and update you accordingly.

Keeping you updated – current plans

This Coronavirus update continues to be issued three times a week (Mon, Wed, Fri). We are keeping the frequency under review. There are around 1200 people receiving these updates and the open rate is very high, so we are minded to keep it to three times a week, especially as developments continue at pace. However, if you have any views on the usefulness of this update and comments on any other content that would be helpful to you, please drop us a quick note at Thanks to all of you who continue to stay in close touch with us.

All the best

James Withers

 Previous daily updates can be found towards the bottom of this page. 

Scotland Food & Drink Partnership Updates and Activity

Collaboration is key to navigating what lies ahead and the Scotland Food & Drink Partnership is uniquely placed to help steer the food and drink industry through this unprecedented economic and health crisis.

The Partnership, bringing together ten trade bodies, public sector bodies and the Scottish Government, are harnessing their experience and history of collaborative working to swiftly respond to daily challenges with one, coherent voice.

Together, the Partnership is tackling each new challenge with tools and support specifically designed for the whole industry from timely joint industry statements to letter templates allowing our workforce to get to work.

We’re conscious that there is a lot of communication on Covid-19 from many different angles. To try and create one simple gateway into the information being produced by our industry and public sector partners, we have put it all into one handy table.

Support for Businesses

This is a collection of some of the business support resources currently available.

Support for Businesses - Financial Assistance

Covid19 - Support for Businesses - Financial Assistance

Find out more

Support for Businesses - Business Help

Covid19 - Support for Businesses - Business Help

Find out more

Support for Businesses - Webinars & Guides

Support for Businesses - Webinars, Insights & Guides

Find out more


Here you will find information clarifying key workers, Food Standards Scotland official guidance regarding ongoing operations and social distancing and links to recruitment portals for food and drink businesses.

Workforce - Adapting Your Workplace

Covid19 - Workforce - Adapting Your Workplace

Find out more

Workforce - Key Workers

Covid19 - Workforce - Key Workers

Find out more

Workforce - Recruitment

Covid19 - Workforce - Recruitment

Find out more

Public heath advice

This includes people of all ages – even if you do not have any symptoms or other health conditions.

You can only leave your home:

  • to shop for basic essentials – only when you really need to
  • to do one form of exercise a day – such as a run, walk or cycle, alone or with other people you live with
  • for any medical need – for example, to visit a pharmacy or deliver essential supplies to a vulnerable person
  • to travel to and from work – but only where this is absolutely necessary

If you are unwell

For people showing symptoms suggestive of coronavirus the UK Government is stressing the importance of seeking help online by using the 111 online coronavirus service to find out what to do.

What to do if you have coronavirus symptoms

Continue to stay at home if you have either:

  • a high temperature – this means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature)
  • a new, continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual)
  • a loss of normal sense of taste or smell

To protect others, do not go to places like a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital. Stay at home. If you have coronavirus symptoms and need help, from now on you should dial 111, not your GP. You only need to call 111 if your symptoms worsen and are unmanageable, or do not improve after 7 days.

Use of face coverings

The evidence on the use of face coverings is limited, but there may be some benefit in wearing a facial covering when you leave the house and enter enclosed spaces, especially where physical distancing is more difficult and where there is a risk of close contact with multiple people you do not usually meet. Examples include, traveling on public transport or entering a food shop where it is not always possible to maintain a 2 metre distance from another customer. There is no evidence to suggest there might be a benefit outdoors, unless in an unavoidable crowded situation, where there may be some benefit.

By face coverings we do not mean the wearing of a surgical or other medical grade mask but a facial covering of the mouth and nose, that is made of cloth or other textiles and through which you can breathe, for example a scarf.

We are recommending that you consider using face coverings in the limited circumstances described above as a precautionary measure. Given that the evidence of impact on transmission is relatively weak, the public use of facial coverings is not being made mandatory and will not be enforced at this stage. However, we will keep this guidance under ongoing review as we consider any easing of lockdown restrictions in the weeks ahead.

Full details can be found here.

Previous updates

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