Updated Scottish Government Guidance for the hospitality sector published this afternoon to deal with the arrival of the new Omicron variant. Regulations come into force from midnight tonight.
The updated guidance states that:-
With the arrival of the new Omicron variant, employees and employers should strengthen compliance with current protection measures and make an extra effort to do so from now through the festive period and beyond.
Continued collective effort and commitment, particularly in sticking to the rules and guidance in place, will be a critical part of our response to the challenging winter ahead.
Central guidance has been updated for safer workplaces. The update to tourism and hospitality guidance can be found here and should be read in conjunction with the safer workplaces guidance, which contains the key elements of mandatory and advisory protection measures, alongside advice and resources on risk management.
As with other businesses, the central message for those operating in the tourism and hospitality sector is to ensure all operators review their risk assessment in line with the updated guidance on taking reasonable measures to reduce risk. This should be done as a priority.
All premises are different and will need an individual approach to ensure measures are right for the setting and optimise, to the greatest extent possible while maintaining trading capability, mitigating measures to reduce risk. Alongside ongoing compliance with existing baseline measures, which continue to apply, actions to avoid crowding and opportunities for mixing of multiple and unconnected groups of people are likely to have the greatest impact on risk reduction.
Safer workplaces guidance includes some examples of good practice and reasonable measures that workplaces could take. Elaborating on this and recognising the diversity of settings in the hospitality sector, operators may wish to consider some of the following as reasonable and or practical measures to deploy:
- Queue management – many premises are already familiar with managing queues, either at doors or within premises. Consider whether current arrangements can be expanded or new arrangements introduced to manage pinch points, such as at bar areas, so that customers have adequate space to queue apart from one another i.e. 1 metre, and crowding does not occur.
- Ordering systems – consider whether adaptations to existing ordering systems, such as via apps or at designated queue managed ordering points, can reduce interactions within premises.
- One way systems – consider, where practical, whether introducing, or reintroducing, a one way system will reduce the pressure on pinch points within premises.
- Table service – where not already the practice, consider whether reverting to table service is practical. This is an effective way to reduce opportunities for crowding and may also meet with customer preference in the current context of the pandemic.
- Use of screens – consider whether the use of screens between tables and or at service points can add to enhanced risk management measures.
- Capacity management – linked to queue management, consider whether busy times can be made safer by reassessing how customer flow through the premises is managed i.e. is there merit in ticketing peak festive opening, which may also help with stock management.
These guidance points are not exhaustive but are suggested to help operators manage risk and understand what may be considered a reasonable measure. It is for each premises to determine what is practical and operationally possible for their setting in what is a diverse sector.