Overview

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

9 August 2021

  • Updated text for move beyond Level 0

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. This guidance applies to transport operators based within Scotland as well as those transport operators carrying passengers into Scotland. The guidance must be read alongside the legal restrictions and prohibitions contained within the Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Restrictions) (Scotland) Regulations 2021, as amended from time to time and the Scottish Government's Safer Workplaces guidance.

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. 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 passenger 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 2021, which includes guidance around school transport. Operators should familiarise themselves with this guidance.

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

On 9 August 2021 all of Scotland moves beyond Level 0 of the COVID-19 levels system, as set out in the Covid-19: Strategic Framework update.

Moving beyond Level 0 does not signal the end of the pandemic.  Although many legal restrictions will be lifted, and many people are now fully vaccinated, it is still possible for the virus to spread between people. It will continue to be important for everyone to remain cautious and follow guidance on precautionary measures.

What is changing

When Scotland moves beyond Level 0:

  • all businesses can open with protective measures, including nightclubs and adult entertainment venues
  • there will no longer be a requirement to physically distance from other people and there will be no limits on the number of people you can meet
  • there will no longer be any limits on the number of people who can attend weddings, funerals and civil partnerships
  • large scale events can take place – but, for a limited period, organisers will need to apply for permission to hold outdoor events with more than 5000 people and indoor events with more than 2000 people
  • an exemption to the self-isolation rules will be introduced for close contacts who have received two doses of the COVID-19 vaccination, or are under 18 provided they meet further criteria (further information about eligibility is available)
  • for now, we will continue to advise home working where possible, recognising that some staff will start to return to offices in line with staff wellbeing discussions and business need. we will encourage employers to consider for the longer term a hybrid model of home and office working - which may, of course, have benefits beyond the need to control a virus

Review period

Precautionary measures will be reviewed on a three weekly basis to ensure they remain proportionate.

What are precautionary measures?

Some precautionary measures remain in place. These are steps intended to reduce the spread of the virus and help us maintain the good progress we have already made as we move forward to greater normality.

Although some precautionary measures will remain as mandatory legal requirements, others will be advisory.

The precautionary measures are:

Wear a face covering

By law, face coverings must continue to be worn in most indoor public places (including indoor communal spaces, workplaces and public transport) unless you are exempt for specific circumstances. A full list of the areas you must wear a face covering is available.

Self-isolate when immediately if you get symptoms

Everyone must continue to follow Test and Protect rules and guidance which means you must stay at home if you have symptoms or test positive for COVID-19, even if you have received two doses of the COVID-19 vaccination.

An exemption to the self-isolation rules has been introduced for close contacts who have received two doses of the COVID-19 vaccination, or are under 18 provided they meet further criteria (further information about eligibility is available).

People who are not fully vaccinated or who test positive for COVID-19 will still need to self-isolate for ten days.

Advisory precautionary measures:

Get vaccinated when offered

Support staff to get the COVID-19 vaccine once it’s offered to them and encourage appointment uptake.

Good hand hygiene and surface cleaning

Good hygiene measures are key workplace-specific measures to create a safe working environment. These include, for example:

  • providing access to sanitiser and hand-washing facilities
  • regular cleaning of work equipment, chairs and work stations
  • regular cleaning and sanitising of break out areas

Continued promotion of good ventilation

By taking measures to increase the volume of outside air entering a building, such as opening windows, doors or vents, you can help minimise the risk of spreading COVID-19 to colleagues and customers. Reducing the number of workers in a work area at the same time is also an important way to minimise risk.

A range of guidance has been developed to help businesses, employers and employees understand what good ventilation is which includes Scottish Government ventilation guidance and the Health and Safety Executive guidance on ventilation and air conditioning during COVID-19.

Working from home and hybrid working

A gradual return to offices can begin when the country moves beyond level 0 in line with staff wellbeing discussions and business need, however home working will continue to be an important mitigation for controlling the virus.

For now, we would ask that businesses still support employees to do this, where possible and in consultation with employees. We encourage employers to consider, for the longer term, a hybrid model of home and office working - which may, of course, have benefits beyond the need to control a virus.

Enforcement

Within the regulations there are still mandatory requirements - specifically around face coverings in public indoor areas (including public transport), subject to exemptions, Test and Protect collection of details in some settings and the temporary limits that have been set on indoor and outdoor events. Regulators and police will continue their current enforcement role for these requirements under the regulations following the 4 e’s approach, engage, explain, encourage and as a last resort enforce.

Guidance

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 and appropriate
  • Help staff plan their journey to work and follow appropriate guidance
  • 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

Working with trade unions, employees or other workforce representatives

This guidance is underpinned by a spirit of collaborative working between organisations and workers. Throughout this document, the terms ‘organisations’, ‘employer’ and ‘trade union’ or ‘workforce representatives’ is used in that context. Recognising that organisations have a legal responsibility to maintain workplace health and safety and must consult with the health and safety representative selected by a recognised trade union. Or, if there is not one, a representative chosen by workers. Organisations cannot decide who the workforce representative will be.

Legislation

This guidance does not supersede any legal obligations relating to health and safety, employment or equalities and it is important that, as a business or an employer, you continue to comply with your existing obligations, including those relating to individuals with protected characteristics.

Business support

There has been an unprecedented package of support provided from both the Scottish and UK Governments to support businesses. This support has helped many organisations preserve their business, maintain jobs and pay their workers throughout the pandemic.

Further business support information is available.

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.

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
  • consult, if appropriate, with the contracting authority for any services operated under contract.

Support

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

Test and Protect

Everyone must continue to follow Test and Protect rules and guidance which means you must stay at home if you have symptoms or test positive for COVID-19, even if you have received two doses of the COVID-19 vaccination.

Employees who become unwell with COVID symptoms at work

If an employee becomes unwell with COVID-19 symptoms at work, the person should return home as soon as possible. Where possible, they should minimise contact with others and the use of the public transport should be discouraged, however people who have no other option but to use public transport should ensure they:

  • wear a face covering during the journey home
  • follow advice on good ventilation
  • maintain a reasonable distance from others
  • follow advice on hand and respiratory hygiene
  • minimise the time spent on the public transport system

Self-isolation exemptions

People will no longer need to self-isolate for ten days as a close contact if they:

  • have received two doses of the COVID-19 vaccination under a UK Government programme (and 2 weeks have passed since receiving the second dose), or are under 18; and
  • are asymptomatic; and
  • return a negative PCR test.

Individuals under 18 years or medically unable to be vaccinated will be required to self-isolate until they return a negative PCR test and providing they remain asymptomatic, they will be able to end self-isolation as a close contact. For individuals turning 18, they should follow the guidance for under 18 year olds for 4 months to allow time to become fully vaccinated. After that, if they are partially or non-vaccinated, they will be required to self-isolate for 10 days as a close contact.

Individuals who test positive for COVID-19 (even if they are double vaccinated) or are partially or non-vaccinated will still be required to self-isolate for ten days.

Support for employees self-isolating

Employers are encouraged to follow the advice in the COVID-19: Fair work statement.  It states that no worker should be financially penalised by their organisation for following medical advice, and any absence from work relating to COVID-19 should not affect future sick pay entitlement, result in disciplinary action or count towards any future sickness absence related action. This statement applies to workers who are sick or self-isolating under the Test and Protect strategy. 

Further advice and guidance is available for employers and employees from:

Ventilation

A range of guidance has been developed to help businesses, employers and employees understand what good ventilation is which includes Scottish Government ventilation guidance.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) have developed guidance on ventilation and air conditioning during COVID-19 which aims to help employers identify the factors to consider when deciding on ventilation needs in their premises.

Printable summaries on ventilation advice for employers and ventilation advice for everyone at work are available. These summaries will help employers and employees to understand the importance of opening windows and ensuring the workplace is well ventilated.

Working from home and hybrid/flexible working

We recognise the economic and social benefits of people being able to meet and work together in offices and in urban centres but also recognise the importance of home working as a means of reducing transmission and the wider benefits from home working that have been demonstrated during the pandemic. We also recognise that businesses have spent a lot of time and money ensuring staff have the equipment and support they need to allow them to work effectively at home and to ensure that offices are as safe as they can be and we are very grateful for that work.

A gradual return to offices can begin when the country moves beyond level 0 in line with staff wellbeing discussions and business need, however home working will continue to be an important mitigation for controlling the virus. For now, we would ask that businesses still support employees to do this, where possible and in consultation with employees. We encourage employers to consider, for the longer term, a hybrid model of home and office working - which may, of course, have benefits beyond the need to control a virus.

We recognise that businesses are best placed to understand how their operations work most effectively and also understand their employees’ needs and requests for flexible working, based on consultation with staff and unions.

Guidance has been published to support the gradual return to offices.

Vaccinations

NHS Scotland strongly recommends that you attend your vaccine appointments when offered, this includes any booster vaccine which may be available. Further information on COVID-19 vaccines can be found at NHS Inform.

Employers can help encourage vaccine take up by:

  • supporting staff to get the COVID-19 vaccine once its offered to them. This may require paid time off to attend the appointment
  • encouraging vaccine take up by sharing the benefits of being vaccinated with employees. It could help to display material from the NHS COVID-19 vaccination marketing toolkit which includes information leaflets in a number of languages

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

Safer working environment

Safer working environment for staff and passengers

As a minimum we expect:

  • the application of those enhanced mitigation measures as informed by your Covid-19 Risk Assessment in order to suppress transmission of the virus
  • 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 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.

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.

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 and correct disposal of masks. Any PPE provided must fit properly.

Face Coverings

By law, a face covering must be worn by anyone using a passenger transport service or a passenger transport service premises. This legal requirement also extends to most indoor public places, indoor communal spaces including retail, restaurants, cafes, bars, public houses, manufacturing settings, warehouses, in workplaces and during vehicle lessons and tests unless you are exempt. In all other non-mandatory settings, such as outdoor events and crowded places, the use of face coverings is encouraged.

A list of areas where face coverings are mandatory is available. This includes any indoor communal area in a workplace and where there are no measures in place to keep people separated by either a partition or distance of at least 1 metre. The face coverings guidance provides further advice and guidance on how to apply this in the workplace.

A number of exemptions apply which mean that some people do not need to wear face coverings based on specific circumstances. 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. 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. 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.

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 12 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 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.

More information can be found in the guidance on the use of face coverings.

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 2021 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 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 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.

Staff sharing vehicles at work

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.

Such work cohorts could also be useful where a job role requires groups of the same workers to work in close proximity, such that they are likely to be deemed close contacts as set out in the Test and Protect guidance. It may help to maintain business operations in the event that a worker develops symptoms or is tested positive for the virus, as exposure would be limited to their particular cohort.

We expect you to consider implementing the following measures:

  • limit the number of people in the vehicle to as few as possible, ideally no more than 2 and using the biggest vehicle available
  • 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. 

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.

A range of guidance has been developed to help businesses, employers and employees understand what good ventilation is which includes Scottish Government ventilation guidance and the Health and Safety Executive guidance on ventilation and air conditioning during COVID-19.

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.

Hygiene

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. 

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 unless the person subsequently tests positive for Covid-19 and you have been deemed to be a close contact.

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

To reduce transmission from objects and vehicles at the workplace you can consider:

  • revise pick-up/drop-off points, procedures, signage and markings
  • introduce handwashing facilities/sanitiser for workers handling goods and merchandise
  • when handling and storing goods, ensure you are in well ventilated areas, discard any packaging as safely as possible, avoid touching your face, and perform hand hygiene as soon as possible
  • remove waste in bulk if possible

Organisations should consider limiting site access to those who need to be there for safe operation, ensuring safe working practices and production related activities.

There may be a requirement for specific external agencies to have legal access to certain premises in a safe manner.

They should consider implementing a permit to work system for contractors and external visitors who need to access the site. Where possible and appropriate, businesses should consider the following:

  • providing handwashing and hand sanitiser and encourage visitors to wash their hands regularly
  • maintaining a record of all visitors including encouraging the use of the Check In Scotland service

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.

Workforce training

Every workplace should look and feel substantially different for employees. The implementation of Covid-19 mitigation measures 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. 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 Covid-19 mitigation 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. 

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, 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

COVID-19 mitigation measures will change how facilities and services operate. Passengers therefore will need to know and understand the COVID-19-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 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
  • 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 legal 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.

Compliance

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.

Employers should look to establish processes to allow employee feedback on COVID-19 mitigation 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 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. 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 2021. 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

Scottish government Safer workplaces general workplace guidance

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