As restrictions are eased, the emphasis will continue to be on personal responsibility, good practice and informed judgement. The latest  information on Coronavirus in Scotland can be accessed at:

Coronavirus in Scotland (www.gov.scot)

Summary of key changes

19 July 2021

  • Updated text for updated Strategic Framework and changes to Protection Levels from 19 July 2021

15 May 2021

  • Updated text for shielding employees in Protection Levels 0-3

16 April 2021

  • Updated text for new travel rules, Scottish Government calendar for easing restrictions and FACTS guidance

9 March 2021

  • Added text on vaccinations

8 January 2021

  • Updated text to reflect new lockdown restrictions

30 October 2020

  • New Strategic Framework guidance
  • Protecting people who are at higher risk
  • Exemption cards

19 October 2020

  • Face coverings and toilet provisions

23 September 2020

  • Test and Protect app

22 September 2020

  • Car sharing

8 September 2020

  • Physical distancing in work vehicles

28 August 2020

  • Confirmation that guidance applies to tourism sector

26 August 2020

  • Guidance on preparing for the start of the new school term - link updated

3 August 2020

  • School guidance including school transport
  • Changes to Fairer Working Statement and Test and Protect minimum self isolation

10 July 2020

  • Changes to physical distancing and shielding / high risk individuals

24 June 2020

  • Face coverings – amended to confirm that passengers are not obliged to evidence an exemption

22 June 2020

  • Face coverings - link to legislation added

19 June 2020

  • Overview – includes clarification on the applicability of the guidance on mandatory face coverings in respect of airlines and airports.
  • Involving the work force -  confirming the availability, and contact details, of union Health and Safety representatives to assist in the process of risk assessment for those workplaces without union representation.
  • Supporting those who come to work (People who need to self-isolate) – expansion of the Test and Protect information including direct links.
  • PPE and face coverings – updated following the First Minister's announcement, 18 June, that face coverings would be mandatory on public transport from 22 June.
  • Next Steps – providing email address for the submission of comments on the guidance.
  • Where to obtain further information - additional web links have been provided to operator guidance.

This guidance is for operators of transport facilities and transport services for the public. The guidance also covers the staff facilities of transport operators. It comes into effect immediately on 26 May 2020. This guidance applies to transport operators based within Scotland as well as those transport operators carrying passengers into Scotland. The guidance will be reviewed in line with the ongoing review of lockdown requirements and must be read alongside the legal restrictions and prohibitions contained within the Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Restrictions) (Scotland) Regulations 2020, as amended from time to time.

This guidance only refers to airline and airport operators in respect of the references to the mandatory wearing of face coverings within their aircraft and premises and the physical distancing requirements within the public areas of an airport. In all other respects airlines and airport operators should rely on UK guidance and European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) guidance to inform their actions. The EASA guidance is tailored to the particular operating environment in airports and on aircraft. We are content that guidance from aviation regulators should apply in Scotland.

This guidance is also applicable to those operators in the tourism sector who provide transport services which are available to the public.

The Scottish Government has produced specific guidance on preparing for the start of the new school term in August 2020 which includes guidance around school transport. Operators should familiarise themselves with this guidance.

This document is one of a set of documents produced by the Scottish Government about how to work and conduct operations safely in different types of workplace or operational settings. This guidance is to assist transport operators and their workforce in the provision of safe operations during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. It sets out our expectations and a framework for ongoing action to ensure transport operators continue to adapt and operate safely. It outlines measures to assess and address the risks of coronavirus (COVID-19) in the transport sector across Scotland.

The guidance emphasises in particular the importance of undertaking a robust and ongoing risk based assessment with full input from trade unions or workforce representatives selected by employees, and to keep all risk mitigation measures under regular review so that transport facilities, vehicles and vessels continue to feel, and be, safe. The guidance is not mode specific as there are so many variables between individual transport modes and within each mode. Accordingly, each transport operator should translate the principles and examples in this guidance into specific actions pertinent to their operations.

This guidance does not stand alone; it must be considered alongside legal duties (mentioned above) and other guidance produced by government and the relevant transport regulator. It is important for the successful management of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic that transport operators try to co-ordinate their planning and their actions with other transport operators as well as local authorities and other relevant organisations. Trade associations and trade unions can also play a significant role in co-ordination and promotion of appropriate actions.

Context: Where we are now

Now that the direct health harms caused by the virus are reducing and as a result of the success of the vaccination roll out, our strategic intent, as set out in our updated Strategic Framework, has been revised ‘to suppress the virus to the lowest possible level and keep it there, while we strive to return to a more normal life for as many people as possible’.

Scotland follows a COVID-19 levels system. There are 5 levels (0-4) and each has a different set of rules.

Find out the level and rules for an area using the postcode checker

Get information on the latest COVID-19 situation

Beyond Level 0

We have set out the vaccine milestones we hope to reach over the summer, and the plan to take us out of COVID-19 restrictions. See our proposed timetable for these changes.

Our Strategic Framework update sets out what a move beyond Level 0 may look like. We will ensure that our information is clear and accessible as we enter a period where people need to make personal judgements, rather than rules set by government.

This means everyone playing their part by:

  • maintaining good hand hygiene
  • practising respiratory hygiene and cough etiquette
  • wearing face coverings
  • ensuring there is good ventilation – open windows when indoors
  • continuing to engage with Test and Protect and self-isolate when symptomatic or have tested positive

A move beyond Level 0 will be conditional on all adults over 40 protected with two doses of the vaccination and a review of the epidemic being carried out ahead of the date for that move.

Physical Distancing Rules

Physical distancing measures will be slowly eased to enable us to operate in a less restricted way.

When areas move down to Level 0, the following changes will apply:

  • physical distancing of 1m in outdoor settings
  • physical distancing of 1m in indoor settings

Physical distancing requirements will be removed when all areas in Scotland move beyond Level 0.

Business Support

There has been an unprecedented package of support announced from both the Scottish and UK Governments to support businesses, including transport operators. This support should help many employers preserve their business, maintain jobs and pay their staff throughout this crisis. Information on this support is available through findbusinesssupport.gov.scot. The basis of further specific support for transport operators in Scotland will be considered in due course with operators as they provide services in line with the guidance.


In addressing the effects of coronavirus (COVID-19) on your organisation and business functions you should not remove, alter or reduce existing protective security measures without providing clear recommendations informed by appropriate parties on how to maintain effective protective security. Operators should note that this should extend to measures not primarily intended to provide a protective security benefit, but nonetheless does so, for example, removal of street furniture that could make moving, wheeling or queueing pedestrians more vulnerable.

It is also imperative that security staff remain focused on security duties. Where coronavirus (COVID-19) creates additional staffing requirements, e.g. for queue management, transport operators should ensure additional suitable staff resource is made available and that staff are safe and able and confident to raise any concerns. Links to further security guidance are provided below.


The remainder of this sectoral guidance addresses key elements that transport operators are expected to address. These elements have been informed by discussions and engagement with operators, organisations and trade unions and draw on guidance applied elsewhere in the UK.

Summary guidance for transport operators

  • Produce your COVID-19 risk assessment, in consultation with staff and trade unions, share it with them and keep it under review
  • Help staff to work from home, wherever possible
  • Help staff plan their journey to work and follow appropriate guidance
  • Adhere to physical distancing, wherever possible, for staff and passengers on the transport network
  • Implement measures to manage transmission risk, reinforce cleaning procedures and promote good hygiene regimes
  • Communicate how safety measures are being implemented to staff and passengers and make clear what is expected of them

Involving the workforce

Involving the workforce in a risk based approach

As a minimum we expect:

  • a risk based approach to be followed to protect the health and safety of employees and those using your facilities and services; and
  • employees to be fully engaged in that process, through trade unions or workforce representatives selected by employees

Carrying out a robust risk assessment with comprehensive workforce involvement or recognised trade union safety representatives or relevant employee safety representatives will identify the practical measures that can be put in place to minimise the spread of the virus in the workplace, facilities or transport services. Both the Scottish Government and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) recommend a risk based approach focused on a hierarchy of control which seeks to eliminate risks, combat risks at source, adapt workplaces to individual needs, ensure adequate staff training around processes to manage the risk and then use Personal Protective Equipment where required. See further details on a hierarchy of control.

To support individuals and employers to understand and carry out effective risk assessments, the Scottish government developed guidance on individual occupational risk assessment. The guidance aims to assess the specific risk of COVID-19 to individuals in the workplace, taking into account workplace risk facts, individual risks (health conditions, BMI, sex, age, ethnicity) and local prevalence of the virus in the community.

At its most effective, full involvement of your employees creates a culture where relationships are based on collaboration, trust and joint problem solving.

A risk assessment or adoption of mitigation measures must not be a one off exercise, rather part of a regular and ongoing dialogue and feedback loop between employers and trade unions or workforce representatives selected by employees to identify what measures are working, where refinements are possible and any gaps remaining. Reviews of measures and risks should be frequent and will need to reflect changes in risk as we progress through the phases out of the crisis. The implementation of changes to physical distancing, for example, should not occur prior to a risk assessment.

You should ensure your health and safety professionals and representatives have the skills, training and knowledge to understand the risks associated with coronavirus (COVID-19). For workplaces without union representation, union health and safety representatives will be available upon request to support the development of workplace risk assessments. For contact details email safety@stuc.org.uk.

A clear message from employers and trade unions is that building and maintaining employee confidence is vitally important and a challenge that should not be underestimated.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) can also provide help to enable you to comply with health and safety legislation. The Maritime & Coastguard Agency can provide guidance on health and safety matters relating to ships.

When assessing risks to staff, passengers, customers and the public, you should:

  • assess the impact of risk mitigations and whether they result in additional, different risks or potential non-compliance with other requirements (e.g. health and safety or equalities legislation).
  • assess compliance with legal duties to ensure individuals with protected characteristics, for example disabled people, the elderly and pregnant women, are able to access transport networks and that the actions taken as a result of the assessment do not disproportionately impact people with those protected characteristics and that revised accessibility guidance takes into account appropriate measures to address physical distancing measures, for example providing support to comply with physical distancing.
  • consult, if appropriate, with the contracting authority for any services operated under contract.


Supporting those who should come to work, and those who should not

As a minimum we expect:

  • working from home to continue or to be offered to employees, where possible and appropriate;
  • health factors to be considered in any phasing of who returns to work, with employees only expected to return when safe working environment measures have been implemented and a return to onsite work is consistent with their individual medical advice;
  • new contact centre arrangements to be tested and modified through collaboration between employers and employees;
  • companies to take travel to work considerations into account in decisions around a phased restart

Further information to help employers plan for a gradual return to the workplace when the country moves beyond Level 0 of the coronavirus pandemic can be found in the Scottish government Covid-19: Returning to offices guidance.

As minimising the spread of the virus will remain important in ensuring the overall protection of public health and the NHS, planning for a safer return to work should assume that those able to work from home will continue to do so where that is possible and appropriate in accordance with the Scottish government guidance. You should plan for the minimum number of people needed in vehicles or vessels, on site and/or in the office to operate safely and effectively.

You must ensure that staffing is sufficient for safety, giving consideration to fire exits, manual handling, security and first aid. Staff must be made aware not to report to work if they are symptomatic.

Individual health circumstances and protected characteristics should be considered and discussed with employees before prioritising who is asked to return to work and when. This should recognise the protective measures required to minimise health risks to high risk or shielded workers. Employees in the shielding category should not be expected to physically attend work if they live or work in an area in Protection Level 4 and every effort must be made to explore how they can work from home. Consideration of health circumstances and protected characteristics should be given to this as part of the risk assessment process. Permission should be sought from individuals before collecting any information on health conditions of those within their household.

All workers should continue to follow health protection advice to isolate either themselves or as part of their households, if anyone in the household exhibits coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms. Advice within workplaces should continually remind people of the symptoms to look for and clear advice be provided on how to respond if those symptoms become apparent while at work. The Coronavirus Test and Protect guidance sets out the current position.

Planning should recognise that ongoing physical distancing measures required to reduce the spread of the virus may mean that the number of employees able to be accommodated safely in the workplace is constrained. The workforce may have questions or concerns about returning to work and you are encouraged to work with recognised trade unions or employee groups to enable workers to work from home while self-isolating if appropriate.

Pay for workers who are shielding, self-isolating, sick or balancing care responsibilities is likely to be a source of concern for employees. You should work with trade unions, workers’ representatives and employees to provide early guidance to workforces on processes and support for individuals affected by these issues. Opportunities to facilitate home working where feasible should be actively pursued and maintained.

You should also acknowledge the range of factors likely to cause stress or anxiety amongst employees, ranging from living with lockdown arrangements to concerns about travel, schools and relatives impacted by the virus, amongst others. This may have implications for mental health with managers encouraged to be conscious of how these factors may impact on the well-being of individual staff members. Companies and trade unions should identify and direct anyone experiencing mental health issues towards support available, within and out with companies.

Home working will be new to many and is likely to have been implemented at pace as a result of coronavirus (COVID-19) and therefore not have involved normal health and safety planning to ensure people have suitable working arrangements and equipment at home. As it is anticipated that people able to work from home will continue to do so, companies will also need to consider what measures need to be put in place to support working from home safely and effectively (for example, provision of laptops, mobile phones, video conferencing services etc). See advice on home working.

Employers should ensure the organisation culture is inclusive and every employee feels they are returning to a supportive and caring environment. The pandemic has had an unequal impact across the workforce, as different employee groups, and individuals will have been affected in diverse ways according to factors such as their job role, and demographic/personal circumstances. Therefore, it is important the organisation fosters an inclusive working environment that does not tolerate discrimination (protected characteristics under the Equality Act 2010 are age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage or civil partnership, pregnancy or maternity, race, religion or belief, sex, sexual orientation). There is also a risk of victimisation of those infected, suspected, or at high risk to coronavirus (COVID-19) which should be addressed. The following guides from the Health and Safety Executive provide useful sources of information:

Protecting people who are higher risk

The shielding category consists of those who have been identified as being at the highest risk from severe illness from Covid-19. See NHS Inform for further information. Those on the shielding list should not go to work at Protection Level 4 if they cannot work from home. This applies even if they have had the coronavirus vaccine. The Scottish government has published information on shielding advice and support.

People who live with someone who is shielding are not advised to stay away from work; however, they should be supported to stringently follow physical distancing guidance.

People who need to self-isolate

Individuals who are advised to stay at home under existing government guidance should not physically come to work. This includes individuals who have symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) as well as those who live in a household with someone who has symptoms.

All workers should be supported to follow up to date health protection advice on isolation if they or someone in their household exhibits coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms. Advice within workplaces should continually remind workers of the symptoms to look for and clear advice should be provided on how to respond if symptoms become apparent while at work.

Test and Protect

Test and Protect, Scotland’s approach to implementing the 'test, trace, isolate, support' strategy is a public health measure designed to break chains of transmission of Coronavirus (COVID-19) in the community.

The NHS will test people who have symptoms, trace people who may have become infected by spending time in close contact with someone who tests positive, and then support those close contacts to self-isolate.

People who have tested positive for the virus will need to self-isolate for a minimum of 10 days.

NHS contact tracers will interview them and get in touch with people they have been in close contact with, and tell them they must self-isolate for 10 days. If your employees are informed by a contact tracer that they should isolate, you should help them to do so straight away.

A close contact is someone who has been physically close enough to the confirmed case for a long enough period of time, that they may have had the virus transmitted to them. The risk of the virus being transmitted is higher the closer the contact, the greater the exposure to respiratory droplets (for example from coughing), and the longer the duration of the contact.

Where Infection Prevention Control measures have been utilised such as protective screen or use of PPE the contact tracer will conduct a risk assessment to identify contacts at risk. The priority is to public health in order to break the chain of transmission of COVID-19.

Employers can utilise this further information on Test and Protect.

The success of this public health intervention will depend on the continued willingness of the population to comply with these measures. Workers should therefore be supported to do so. The Coronavirus (COVID-19) shielding, support and contacts guidance provides useful information and financial advice.

Health Protection Scotland (HPS) has provided COVID-19 information and guidance for general (non-healthcare) settings which reiterates that people should not travel to work if they exhibit any coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms and also provides information on general principles of infection prevention and control and health protection measures.

Test and Protect – Contact Tracing App

Protect Scotland is an entirely voluntary app that is an additional part of NHS Scotland’s Test & Protect service.  Having the app should never be a requirement for any workplace. The app complements but does not replace manual contact tracing. It enhances contact tracing and quickly alerts app users that are at risk as they have come into close contact (less than 2m for 15 minutes or more) with an app user that has since tested positive for Covid-19.

Temperature checks

We do not recommend the use of temperature checking employees as a means of testing for COVID-19 due to the low efficacy rate of this method.


The vaccine represents an important step in our progress towards a safer return to workplaces. Evidence to date shows it will reduce both mortality and morbidity, however we do not know the extent to which the vaccine reduces transmission of the virus from an infected person to others. That is why it is important for businesses and employees to act responsibly, and continue to align their approach with published guidance.

Further information and guidance available at Coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccination.

Safer working environment

Safer working environment for staff and passengers

As a minimum we expect:

  • the application of public health and safety measures, such as physical distancing that address staff arriving and leaving the workplace, in the workplace and in works vehicles and for passengers whilst queuing or travelling on the network
  • enhanced hygiene regimes in workplaces, public areas and on vehicles and vessels.

Please note that none of the mitigation measures should substitute another. Good hand and respiratory hygiene, face coverings, physical distancing and ventilation are, together, an effective package of interventions in suppressing COVID-19. When one of these measures cannot be met operators should take extra precautions to ensure their services are safer for everyone.

Physical distancing

Physical distancing measures will be slowly eased to enable us to operate in a less restricted way.

When areas move down to Level 0, with effect from 19 July 2021, the following changes will apply:

  • physical distancing of 1m in outdoor settings
  • physical distancing of 1m in indoor settings

Physical distancing requirements will be removed when all areas in Scotland move beyond Level 0.

Until such time as Scotland moves beyond Level 0 you should advise staff and passengers on ways of maintaining physical distancing from others as much as possible. There are situations where this may not be possible, for example when boarding or alighting, during security checks, on busier services, busier times of day, when walking through interchanges and when undertaking essential maintenance work that requires two or more people for the task.

Where physical distancing in carrying out work appears not to be possible, the risk assessment should assess whether activities can be redesigned. That is to ensure the work can proceed in a different way whilst maintaining the required physical distance between staff. If it can be redesigned, you should document a justification that describes why the process has changed from usual practice and that you can ensure that usual Health and Safety considerations are applied. If the task cannot be redesigned, then it should be adapted to ensure physical distancing is adhered as far as possible, provided that additional mitigation measures are implemented. For example, minimising the time spent at less than the required distance, improving cleaning practices, implementing safety screens, wearing face coverings and keeping groups of staff in consistent teams that are as small as possible (cohorting). The latter could be implemented by, for instance, keeping maintenance crews working together, rather than mixing crew members on different shifts. You should document and regularly review revised procedures.

In some situations environmental changes within a vehicle may be appropriate, such as the installation of protective barriers or safety screens between the driver and passengers. This is a decision for the relevant licensing authorities, operators and the firm or individual to make based on their own assessment of risk. You should contact the licensing authority before any such measures are installed to check that they will permit the installation and that it will meet their requirements.

When creating, agreeing and maintaining clear rules for staff and passengers that meet physical distancing guidelines, you will need to take into account those staff or passengers with specific needs or protected characteristics, as well as some groups of people who process information differently or may not be able to distance from others.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

The Scottish Government is continuously looking to improve the supply and distribution of the protective equipment that is so vital in the fight against coronavirus (COVID-19). Guidance for non-healthcare settings from Health Protection Scotland provides up to date guidance and information on general principles of infection prevention and control and health protection measures. PPE should be worn in line with health and safety requirements.

PPE is the last step in the hierarchy of risk and other control measures should be considered before the application of PPE. The non-healthcare settings guidance states that occupations should continue to use PPE as per local policies i.e. business as usual. The exception is where a risk assessment of the setting indicates that a higher level of contamination may be present or there is visible contamination with body fluids, then the need for additional PPE such as an apron and gloves should be considered.

PPE protects the user against health or safety risks at work. It can include items such as safety helmets, gloves, eye protection, high-visibility clothing, safety footwear and safety harnesses. It also includes respiratory protective equipment; such as face masks. Where PPE is required, it must be of a sufficient PPE standard to protect the wearer and employers must ensure that it is available.

This guidance describes the steps you need to take to manage coronavirus (COVID-19) risk in the workplace. This includes working from home and staying 2 metres away from each other in the workplace. When managing the risk of coronavirus (COVID-19), additional PPE beyond what employees are usually required to wear for their job role is not beneficial. This is because coronavirus (COVID-19) is a different type of risk to the risks employees normally face in a workplace, and needs to be managed through physical distancing, hygiene and fixed teams or partnering, not through the use of PPE.

Unless employees are in a situation where the risk of coronavirus (COVID-19) transmission is very high, your risk assessment should reflect the fact that the role of PPE in providing additional protection is extremely limited. However, if your risk assessment does show that PPE is required, then you must provide this PPE free of charge to workers who need it. You must also consider any training necessary to manage the risks of misuse, the risks of wearers failing to observe social distancing while wearing a mask and correct disposal of masks. Any PPE provided must fit properly.

Face Coverings

A face covering must be worn by anyone using a passenger transport service or a passenger transport service premises available for the public to use. A face covering is defined as any type of protective clothing which covers a person’s nose, mouth and chin, this can include a scarf, face mask or any type of appropriate cloth or textile covering.

Scientific evidence on the benefits of wearing face coverings on public transport is limited at present. However, initial findings suggest that there may be a benefit to wearing a facial covering when entering an enclosed space where physical distancing is more difficult and where there is a risk of close contact with multiple people, thus increasing the risk of possible transmission. This might be the case when entering a public transport vehicle, railway station, bus station, enclosed ferry terminal or airport.

Accordingly, face coverings must be worn by passengers and staff when on train services, bus services and on the Edinburgh Tram and Glasgow Subway. These should also be worn in taxis and private hire vehicles, on aircraft taking off and landing in Scotland and in bus stations, railway stations, subway stations, enclosed ferry terminals and airports. On ferry services, face coverings must be worn by passengers and staff unless the ferry, or part of the ferry which is open to members of the public, is entirely outdoors or the physical distancing of 2 metres can be maintained. Ferry operators, as part of their risk assessment, will determine where on their vessels face coverings are to be worn.

Staff might not be required to wear a face covering in non-public areas of a station, ferry terminal or airport, unless the risk assessment of the operator determines that they should be worn. The operator should, however, ensure that other mitigations are in place to reduce the increased risk of transmission (i.e. staggered times and establishing a maximum capacity to ensure physical distancing, among others). Staff are also not required to wear a face covering on a vehicle where they are physically separated by a partition from other passengers or staff by means of, for example, a protective screen. An illustrative example of the latter might be a driver of a vehicle in a cab or behind a Perspex screen on a bus or in a taxi.

Following the First Minister's statement to Parliament, regulations were laid on 15 October 2020 to bring the rules on wearing face coverings in workplace canteens into line with rules in restaurants and cafes. Accordingly, as of 16 October, anybody in a workplace canteen will have to wear a face covering when they are not seated at a table - for example, if they are queueing, entering or leaving the canteen or going to the bathroom.

A further change took effect on Monday 19 October 2020, which requires face coverings to be worn in other communal workplace areas such as corridors.

The responsibility for complying with these measures rests with individuals. But employers are urged to take steps in their workplaces to explain and promote the new regulations. The new rules are a proportionate additional step, which will help employees to keep themselves and their colleagues that bit safer.

Operators of services, stations, ferry terminals or airports should note that the requirement to wear face coverings applies to all persons where the public are present. For example, contractors performing duties on behalf of the operator such as cleaning services on a train or persons making deliveries within a public area are equally required to wear a face covering.

Wearing a face covering can be uncomfortable and may not be appropriate for long durations of time, employers should therefore consider providing opportunities for staff to take relief in non-public areas. Employers should ensure that these non-public areas are as safe as possible for employees, for example, by having a maximum capacity of employers allowed in, having staggered break-times, providing cleaning and sanitising products and installing air purifiers. When wearing a face covering on a public transport service or at a public transport station, ferry terminal or airport, staff should take into account the needs of passengers, particularly those with hearing impairment and those who lip-read. In these situations, staff should remove their face coverings, as necessary, to provide advice, information or assistance. There will also be instances where staff will have reasonable cause to remove a covering for a temporary period which might be, for example, to address public safety or injury, such as the dispatch of trains or buses.

Operators should strongly consider displaying prominent signage on trains, buses, trams, subway carriages, taxis and private hire vehicles and at entrances to, and within, stations, ferry terminals and airports that face coverings must be worn. This signage should also display the exemptions that apply (in general terms) and that face coverings should be reused, if appropriate, or disposed of safely. Ferry operators should equally consider displaying prominent signage advising whether and where face coverings must, or need not, be worn on the vessel. Staff and passengers should be advised that for children under 5 years of age and for those people with health conditions who cannot wear a face covering safely, an exemption applies. Emergency responders and constables acting in the course of their duties are equally excluded from this requirements. A full list of exemptions are outlined in more detail in the Regulations.

Operators and staff may enquire as to why passengers are not wearing face coverings and remind them of their legal obligations. In doing so, they are expected to be sensitive in their dealings with passengers, as many illnesses or disabilities are hidden. There is no obligation on a passenger to produce a doctor’s letter or any form of notification to confirm that they have a reasonable excuse not to wear a face covering. The emphasis throughout this crisis is to explain the reasons why particular measures are in place, and encourage appropriate behaviours and a sense of collective responsibility. Enforcement is the last resort and, in respect of the wearing of face coverings, is a matter for Police Scotland and the British Transport Police.

People may remove their face covering if they need to take medication or to eat or drink where reasonably necessary. People can remove a face covering temporarily to comply with a request by a relevant person or another person acting in the course of their duties. An example of such a circumstance might be when a Border Staff or Police or a ticket examiner needs to check identity.

Passengers are expected to provide their own face coverings. A face covering is not a surgical or other medical-grade masks, but a facial covering of the mouth, nose and chin, for example, a scarf. Operators may wish to have their own stocks of cloth or textile face coverings available as an initial encouragement to those passengers without face coverings.

The wearing of face coverings by passengers or staff must not replace other mitigation measures,  such as physical distancing, hand washing and respiratory hygiene.

Employees must wear a face covering when performing duties on a public transport service or in a public area of a station, enclosed ferry terminal or airport. Employers should support their workers in using face coverings safely and provide advice, if requested, on applying and removing the covering.

If a person is not wearing a face covering on public transport, in a taxi or private hire vehicle or in the public areas of a station, enclosed ferry terminal or airport without a reasonable excuse, they will be in breach of the law. That means they will be liable, on summary conviction, to a fine not exceeding the statutory maximum. The relevant legislation is The Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Restrictions) (Scotland) regulations 2020 as amended.

Face Covering Exemption Cards

Exemption cards are available to those staff and passengers who are exempt from the regulations. The cards are accessible from 29 October 2020 via a free helpline 0800 121 6240 or online contact form. Transport Operators and staff must be aware that individuals do not need to produce an exemption card to Transport Operators to prove they are exempt from face coverings.

The card is illustrated with a face covering and the text on the card is large enough to be read from a distance of 2 metres, thus meaning close physical contact is not required.

The exemption cards, both digital and physical, will be delivered through a third sector organisation (Disability Equality Scotland). The physical card will be posted to users and the digital card will be emailed to users as an attachment. It will not be available to download directly from the website.

The face covering exemption card does not replace other exemption cards such as the UK Government exemption card, Thistle card or Sunflower lanyard. These are all valid forms of proof of exemption from face coverings.

Staff arriving at and leaving the workplace

When arriving and leaving the workplace, there may be occasions when employees are in the same space or are using entrances and exits at the same time. You should consider opportunities to reduce risk in these situations. We expect you to consider:

  • staggering arrival and departure times
  • queuing management, including floor markings, signs and introducing one-way flow at entry and exit points,
  • hand sanitation at entry and exit points and not using touch-based security devices (such as keypads).
  • providing additional safe facilities for those using active travel means (running/walking/cycling) to access work.

Protecting staff in the workplace

Where staff are unable to work from home, you should be taking steps to reduce transmission from face-to-face interaction and enable physical distancing in the workplace, which may include public areas. We expect you to consider:

  • signage which reinforces expectations of employees at relevant locations (i.e. reminding to physically distance or to wear a face covering)
  • teams or shift groups, fixing these teams or shift groups so that where contact is unavoidable, this happens between the same people.
  • ways to remove direct contact through use of drop-off points or transfer zones.
  • using digital means to undertake work, where possible
  • reconfiguring seating and tables to optimise spacing and to avoid people working face-to-face
  • providing increased levels of hand sanitation in workspaces.
  • reducing job and location rotation.
  • updating first aid training.

Physical distancing of staff in work vehicles during work or travelling to/from work

Where staff are required to use works vehicles either to get to and from work or as part of their work activities you should take steps to avoid people sharing vehicles.

We recognise that there may be occasions when there is no alternative to share vehicles. This should be limited as much as possible and you should keep regular sharing to the same people each time.

Where it is not possible to keep a 1 metre distance in a vehicle, you should devise additional safety measures to minimise the risk of transmission. We expect you to consider:

  • limit the number of people in the vehicle to as few as possible, ideally no more than 2 and using the biggest vehicle available
  • providing clear signage to outline physical distancing measures in place
  • keep your distance and take care entering and exiting the vehicle
  • promoting single person or contactless refuelling where possible
  • using physical screening, provided this does not compromise safety
  • windows in the vehicle should be opened as far as possible taking account of weather conditions to improve ventilation in the space
  • sit as far apart as possible in the vehicle, avoiding face-to-face
  • using a fixed pairing system if people have to work in close proximity, for example in a vehicle
  • the wearing of face coverings by all occupants unless an exemption applies and provided it does not compromise driver safety in any way
  • occupants should perform hand hygiene before entering the vehicle and again on leaving the vehicle
  • occupants should avoid eating in the vehicle
  • passengers in the vehicle should minimise any surfaces touched and should sanitise their hands after touching any surfaces
  • keep the volume of any music/radio to a minimum to prevent the need to raise voices in the vehicle
  • the longer the journey, the higher the risk; keep journey times to the minimum feasible and do not linger in the vehicle before or after the journey itself.

  • regular cleaning of vehicles, in particular between different users. Particular attention should be paid to high risk touch points such as door handles, electronic buttons and seat belts. 

Protecting passenger flows

To protect passengers and staff on the transport network, it is essential, as far as possible, to enable a physical distance of  1 metre.,  You should seek to maximise physical distancing where possible, as well as implementing other mitigations where physical distancing is not possible. When considering interventions, you should take into account, for example, different types of vehicles, vessels, car and cycle parks, service areas, station or ferry terminal concourses and platforms. You should also consider how people act in different circumstances (e.g. wet weather, indoor, outdoor, security procedures). You are also advised to consider and mitigate the security implications of any temporary interventions to support physical distancing.

Particular attention should be given to queues that may occur, including at interchanges and at busy times of day, or when there are unanticipated delays. It is important that passengers can queue safely (observing physical distancing where possible) and that staff stay safe while passengers queue.

Specific consideration should be given to the impacts of change on those with physical disabilities or cognitive impairments.

Across the network, we expect you to consider:

  • displaying messages, signs and making announcements to discourage non-essential trips and that where possible people should work from home.
  • promoting other active travel modes or other demand management techniques.
  • compulsory seat reservations on long distance limited stop services to manage potential crowding.
  • communicating with passengers through social media and websites and other means to help them prepare for their journeys and know what to expect, including physical distancing measures, face covering requirements, unless exempt, and implications for capacity in interchanges and vehicles or vessels. The manner and message of communications should take into account the needs of passengers with physical or cognitive impairments.
  • undertaking joint planning with other transport organisations, Regional Transport Partnerships and local authorities at transport interchanges (such as ferry terminals and railway, tram and bus stations as well as bus and tram stops) to ensure aligned approaches.
  • identifying areas where there is increased risk of congestion or crowding due to reduced capacity because of physical distancing requirements and identify mitigations with other operators and local authorities. The needs of passengers with physical or cognitive impairments should be addressed in any mitigation measures.
  • identifying in advance areas where queues may occur. In these and surrounding areas, consider physical infrastructure, signage, communications and other controls to achieve safe queuing such as consideration of interactions with neighbouring shops and businesses as they seek to manage physical distancing and their own queues. Liaise as appropriate with other organisations to safely manage queues and any impact on public space.
  • enhancing or creating crowd management guidance for staff, assessing the staffing needs and sharing and communicating that guidance at interchanges so that all operators are apprised.
  • providing guidance for staff assisting people with protected characteristics, for example disabled people, the elderly and pregnant women or when staff are providing assistance to people with luggage.

In vehicles or vessels and at service areas, stations, ferry terminals and stops we expect you to consider:

  • rearranging, limiting or removing seating to try and ensure physical distancing is observed.
  • using floor tape, paint or signs in passenger areas to help people adhere to physical distancing
  • displaying messages, signs or making announcements to ensure people are aware of the other the mitigation measures they should follow, such as wearing a face covering, unless exempt, and good hand and respiratory hygiene
  • providing visible information on capacity limits for vehicles or vessels or lifts
  • using screens to create a physical barrier between people where appropriate, such as in ticket offices.
  • introducing one-way flow through public areas and on vehicles or vessels.
  • making arrangements for monitoring compliance to assist with further planning.

Cleaning and ventilation

To prevent the transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19) by people touching contaminated surfaces, you should undertake frequent cleaning of objects and surfaces that are touched regularly in work and public areas or on vehicles and vessels. The frequency of cleaning should be determined by the frequency that objects and surfaces are likely to be touched. Where operationally feasible, internal cleaning of vehicles should be undertaken at the end of journeys in addition to daily cleaning at the end of service. You should also consider the cleaning of all workstations, shared vehicles, hand tools, controls, machinery and equipment after use and between each shift and user.

Good ventilation can help reduce the risk of spreading coronavirus, so a focus on improving general air flow, preferably through fresh air or effective mechanical systems will help keep staff and users safe. For this reason, operators should ensure that a fresh air supply is consistently flowing through vehicles, vessels, carriages, transport hubs and office buildings. Particular consideration should be given to maintaining ventilation flows during the colder months when there is a tendency, for example, to close windows. Fresh ventilation systems can operate as normal, but recirculating air systems may require adjustments to increase air flow and checks, for example on filters, should be conducted frequently.

Where vehicles, vessels and carriages allow for the provision of toilet facilities, operators should ensure frequent cleaning and sanitisation of such facilities in line with the operator’s risk assessment to minimise the transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19). Bins should be provided for the disposal of paper towels and hand washing soap should be made available. Regular monitoring of toilet facilities should be encouraged to identify and fix faults, and to maintain hygienic standards.


To encourage good hygiene you should use signage, announcements and any other relevant communication tools to remind customers and staff to maintain hygiene standards (i.e. hand washing and coughing etiquette and the benefits of washing hands before, during and after boarding vehicles or vessels). You should ensure sufficient provision of hand sanitiser for staff in work areas in addition to washrooms, and for staff within vehicles or vessels. The provision of hand-sanitisers, preferably hands-free, for use by passengers at busy stations and terminals and on vehicles and vessels is encouraged, subject to appropriate risk assessments on operational implications, including passenger flow management.

Emergency incidents

Ensure that your emergency procedures are followed during an emergency or situation requiring an evacuation. You should consider how to maintain physical distancing in these situations, recognising that people may not be able to stay 2 metres apart. You should review and update existing crowd management and emergency plans and the situations when these are instigated.

If anyone becomes unwell with symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) in a transport setting, they should be advised to return home and follow appropriate guidance, which can be found on the Health Protection Scotland COVID-19 website.

If they need clinical advice, they should go on line to NHS 111 or call by telephone 111. In an emergency, call 999 if they are seriously ill or injured or their life is at risk. Do not visit the GP, pharmacy urgent care centre or hospital.

There is currently no requirement to self-isolate if you have been in proximity with someone showing coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms in the workplace and have been following physical distancing measures.

Staff should wash their hands thoroughly for 20 seconds after any contact with someone who is unwell.

It is not necessary to close the transport setting or send staff home.

Any incidents of assault involving the dispersal of respiratory droplets or phlegm on staff or passengers on the transport network should be reported in the normal manner with staff and passengers prevented from accessing affected surfaces until they have been cleaned.

Deliveries and distribution

Deliveries, distribution and contractors - protecting your workforce and those who come on works sites

As a minimum we expect you:

  • to work with your suppliers to understand their pressures and develop appropriate solutions; and
  • to treat all site visitors including contractors, suppliers and delivery drivers, as if they were employees, ensuring they are offered the same protections and are expected to follow the same rules.

Supplier engagement

The global nature of coronavirus (COVID-19) means it may have impacted on both current demand for some goods manufactured in Scotland and on normal supply chain relationships. Early engagement with suppliers is recommended to understand how well placed suppliers will be to provide inputs at the level required to meet your expected demand. This should include considering any additional logistical issues associated with the current functioning of international supply networks.

During the coronavirus (COVID‑19) pandemic minimising pressures on supply chains is paramount to ensure that suppliers at risk are better able to cope with the current crisis and ensure service continuity and delivery during and after the outbreak. You are encouraged to work with suppliers to understand the specific pressures they face and identify potential solutions on a case-by-case basis, including providing early clarity on the treatment of existing orders.

Site visitors

Many works locations or facilities may normally have a number of contractors and visitors not employed by the company operating the site. This presents increased risk of virus transmission if people do not adhere to the coronavirus (COVID-19) mitigation measures. To address this risk, companies should consider limiting site access to those who need to be there for safe operation, ensuring safer working practices and related activities, and implementing a permit to work system for contractors and external visitors who still need to access the site. This would set out requirements for how everyone behaves on a site including entering and leaving the site, clarifying responsibilities for all around, maintaining good hygiene and physical distancing.

Drivers accessing and leaving sites present another challenge and potential source of interaction or transmission to manage. Measures introduced to maintain a safer working environment onsite, developed with suppliers and delivery companies has included looking to remove the need for documentation to change hands where possible by adopting electronic processes as well as reducing access to contact points by requiring drivers to remain in vehicles or providing access to facilities like toilets which are only for external visitors, therefore avoiding risks of cross contamination to or from the manufacturing company's staff. Operators should be aware of the legal requirement of the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992, which make it clear that there is a legal duty on the person in control of the premises to make welfare facilities available to visiting drivers, including toilets and hand washing facilities. The Health and Safety Executive has published guidance for drivers’ welfare at delivery and collection sites during the coronavirus outbreak.

Any visitors to public areas of stations, enclosed ferry terminals or airports must wear a face covering.

Training and communications

As a minimum we expect:

  • training around processes and working environment expectations to be provided for all staff
  • comprehensive and timely communications to inform staff and passengers of the latest coronavirus (COVID-19) related safety procedures.

You must keep staff and passengers informed of the latest coronavirus (COVID-19) related safety procedures. You should share the government’s most recent guidance to all staff and organise training sessions on how to work or interact safely with colleagues and the public. You should carefully consider the best ways to share advice to passengers on how to travel safely and the application of physical distancing guidelines.

Workforce training

Every workplace should look and feel substantially different for employees. Physical distancing and enhanced hygiene procedures will change how workplaces operate. Training will therefore be essential to build a common understanding of requirements within the new working norm and instil confidence that changes put in place will contribute to a safe working environment. Issues such as ensuring staff are aware of the implications for fair treatment of customers in these difficult circumstances should feature in training programmes.

Training methods will need to be considered to enable effective delivery of relevant overarching and company specific measures and expectations of staff whilst at work in a way which maintains physical distancing. It is anticipated visual aids will be required as part of training and as part of ongoing guidance and communications with staff to reinforce individual responsibilities in a new normal working environment.

Training upon, or before, a return to work onsite is vital for all staff and consideration should be given to an induction process for everyone covering their new, enhanced hygiene and physical distancing measures. This induction process can help demonstrate that you are taking the coronavirus (COVID-19) risks seriously and have adapted your working environment accordingly, therefore building confidence amongst the workforce that they are returning to a safe workplace while also being clear on individual employee responsibilities.

Training is essential, given the new operational context, as a means to deliver assurance and compliance, and as part of building confidence in the workplace that safety is paramount. An awareness and focus on the importance of mental health at times of uncertainty will also be especially important.

Clear and regular training and communication will improve understanding and consistency of how new ways of working are applied. Consideration will need to be given to the need for some training to be delivered online, to maintain physical distancing between staff, as well as the practical implications that training approach may have for some staff.

Training for staff in respect of the accessibility and assistance needs of passengers should receive particular attention.

Passenger communication

Physical distancing and enhanced hygiene will change how facilities and services operate. Passengers therefore will need to know and understand the coronavirus-related safety procedures, how they differ from what they might have known and the impact of change on their journey and travel experience and how they are expected to behave. Changes to procedures will be especially relevant for those passengers with protected characteristics. Accordingly, we expect you to consider:

  • appropriate communications to help passengers to prepare for their journeys and to understand what to expect.
  • information on timetables, expected journey times, expected capacity (accounting for physical distancing), and changes to normal routes or services.
  • signs and announcements at appropriate locations to help passengers understand in stations, terminals, vehicles and vessels what they need to do to travel safely and maintain physical distancing and that they are within an environment where 1 metre physical distancing operates.
  • poster and announcements to remind passengers of the protection levels and implications for travel, particularly for those in, or travelling into, Levels 3 and 4.
  • posters and announcements, where appropriate, to remind passengers on the requirement to wear a face covering.
  • posters and announcements, where appropriate, to remind passengers to wash their hands regularly or use hand-sanitisers when travelling and follow general hygiene advice.
  • the promotion of digital ticket purchases and contactless payments, where possible.
  • information on changes to assistance services or procedures for those with protected characteristics, for example disabled people, the elderly and pregnant women, and how they can continue to access transport in a safe way.
  • the use of simple, clear and accessible messaging to explain guidelines using images and clear language, with consideration of groups whose first language may not be English or where alternative formats may be required.


As a minimum we expect:

  • robust local arrangements to monitor compliance with new operational arrangements that have been informed by trade unions or workforce representatives selected by employees; and
  • remedial actions should flow from that monitoring, and be augmented by advice, guidance and support from external enforcement authorities.

It is vital as the country moves through the various phases of recovery that employees have confidence in the steps being taken by their employers. Employers should look to establish processes to allow employee feedback on physical distancing and safety protocols, enabling employees to input on areas of concern and for employers to act upon these concerns.

The regulator for health and safety at work, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is constantly applying their expertise to ensure people at work are protected, utilising the powers at their disposal under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. HSE is treating coronavirus (COVID-19) as a workplace health issue with regard to the protection of workers from infection. HSE can and will use the Health and Safety Work Act to ensure physical distancing in the workplace in relation to workers. HSE can be contacted by phone on 0300 003 1647 or online at the HSE contact form.

Where the HSE identifies employers who are not taking action to comply with the relevant public health legislation and guidance to control public health risks, they will consider taking a range of actions to improve control of workplace risks. For example, this would cover employers not taking appropriate action to physically distance or to ensure workers in the shielded category can follow the NHS advice to self-isolate for the period specified. The actions HSE can take include the provision of specific advice to employers through to issuing enforcement notices to help secure improvements.

It is expected that you and your employees should always work together to resolve issues. If concerns still cannot be resolved staff can raise them with HSE using their online form.

Within the Rail Industry, Her Majesty’s Railway Inspectorate (HMRI) within the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) provides safety advice to the industry, and also has a range of formal enforcement powers under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. See more details.

There are other enforcement bodies that are responsible for a range of other compliance issues such as local environmental health officers, Police Scotland and the British Transport Police and you may wish to share with them the measures that you have put in place so that they can provide further advice and guidance.

Applicability of this guidance

You should consider this guidance when operating in Scotland. If you are also operating in other parts of the UK, consideration should be given to any guidance issued by the UK Government and the devolved governments of Wales and Northern Ireland, and those guidance documents in combination if operating cross-border.

In addition to considering guidance produced in the UK, when operating services that are arriving into or departing the UK, organisations should also adhere to legal requirements set by foreign governments when operating in other countries.

Next steps

Review and future development

This guidance extends until further notice. It sets out current advice and guidance for transport operators in helping to manage coronavirus (COVID-19).

Easing restrictions will not mean returning to how things were before the virus. , The continued use of some baseline measures such as hand hygiene, face coverings and other critical behaviours will be essential to ensure public and workforce confidence. 

This guidance will be updated and reviewed as required, including further to amendments made to the Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Restrictions) (Scotland) Regulations 2020. Substantive changes to the guidance will be subject to consultation with transport operators and unions.

Please ensure you use the latest version of this guidance.

Where to get further guidance

Scotland’s Strategic Framework

Physical distancing

Face Coverings

Support for workers and business support

Fair Work during the COVID-19 crisis

Airport and airline guidance

Rail industry guidance

Rail Delivery Group (RDG) – Can be contacted by rail operators to obtain rail specific guidance.

Bus industry guidance

Other guidance