Reopening businesses

East Lothian Council is here to support you as we move through the various phases of recovery and look to return to the new normal.  We have collated useful information and this will be updated in line with Scottish Government guidance.

Economic Development

Our Economic Development team and Business Gateway Advisers are continuing to provide as much support as possible and can be contacted at [email protected]

Environmental Health

Our Environmental Health team has advice for businesses on how to comply with physical distancing regulations amongst staff and customers.

Businesses must take all reasonable measures to ensure:

  • a distance of 2m is maintained between any persons on the premises
  • customers are admitted in sufficiently small numbers to enable 2m distance
  • a distance 2m is maintained between any person queuing to enter the premises 

You MUST have controls to:

  • ensure 2m distancing between all persons (staff and customers) within your premises
  • ensure a suitable maximum number of persons are permitted in your premises (to facilitate 2m distancing)
  • ensure 2m distancing between persons waiting outside to enter premises 

You are ADVISED to also have:

  • signage stating maximum number of customers permitted in the premises at any one time
  • signage reminding customers to maintain 2m physical distancing 
  • till screens
  • hand sanitiser, face coverings, gloves for staff (as required)
  • card payment prioritisation
  • a one way system around the premises
  • designated entrance and  exit only doors (where there are 2 or more doors to the premises)

Risk assessment

You must complete a suitable and detailed risk assessment of covid-19 for your business. This risk assessment should detail the business controls you put in place to protect both employees and the public. You can download a blank risk assessment template from this webpage. Customers and staff will need to be confident in your covid-19 control measures.

Download a risk assessment template

Guidance for completing a risk assessment

Health & Safety Executive: Latest information and advice 

Health & Safety Executive: Managing risks and risk assessment at work

Business operation

If you are planning to reopen your business you should complete the relevant checklist - which covers key points to consider including physical distancing.


Download Food business reopening checklist

Download Retail business reopening checklist (from phase 2)

Download licensed alcohol premises reopening checklist (from phase 2)

Download customer toilet reopening checklist

Download checklist for 1m physical distancing - phase 3

Download checklist for Museum, Gallery & Heritage Attractions

Posters for your workplace

Download stay safe support local love East Lothian poster

Download physical distancing poster

Download please queue responsibly poster

Download stand 2 meters apart poster

Download using perspex screens poster

Download handwashing poster 

Download covid-19 symptoms

Download max number of people in store poster

Download 1 meter distancing posters

Download facemask posters

Download Test & Protect Information Poster

Download a privacy notice for use when collecting customer or visitor data


Scottish Government guidance - for retailers on smoking and vaping in queues

Scottish Government guidance - to help micro/small businesses open safely

We Are Scotland Campaign - stakeholder toolkit for businesses/services to reopen safely

Hospitality sector guidance - from Environmental Health Officers, industry and the Scottish Government 

Supporting Test and Protect

The Scottish Government has produced supporting guidance on collection of Customer & Visitor Details for businesses and other establishments, where the nature of the premises means there may be an increased risk of transmission of COVID-19 due to higher degree of interaction between unknown individuals. To help you reopen your business with confidence, businesses can sign up free to VisitSafe, an online tool to record all your customer visits.

For further advice, please email [email protected]

Trading Standards 

Download Coronavirus Bulletins from the Business Companion website - they have specific guidance for travel and tour operators, food businesses and the housing and home improvement sector to help businesses get back up and running and workplaces operating as safely as possible. Select the Scotland option. The guides are from the Chartered Trading Standards Institute.

Should further advice be required regarding your business within East Lothian, please email [email protected]


Coronavirus has led to a rapid increase in scams aimed at consumers and at at business. Businesses should stay vigilant - especially when incorporating new ways of working like working from home:

Town centre space

The Space Team are responsible for Town Centre space outside your premises - pavements, access, parking, etc.

As shops and businesses re-open, social distancing guidelines mean extra space is needed on our high streets to accommodate walking and waiting.

Businesses are encouraged to operate appointment systems to minimise the number of people congregating at their premises.

Where this is not viable, and you anticipate queues, you must discuss arrangements with East Lothian Council.

We need to work together to ensure everyone is accommodated as far as possible.  This includes people living and working in town centres who need access to their properties, and people waiting for buses and taxis, as well as customers of shops.

East Lothian Council may be able to:

  • cordon off parking spaces to provide room for queuing
  • create space in the carriageway for people passing on foot or on bikes
  • provide approved signage for use in shop windows 

Email [email protected] with any queries or requests to alter public space.

Businesses requiring space for tables & chairs should apply by completing this application form and submit by email to [email protected].  Applications will be reviewed on a case by case basis depending on the location, its restrictions and the demand in the area.  

Tourism businesses

VisitScotland has been working with the Scottish Government and industry sector groups to outline to you the key requirements that need to be undertaken to get tourism ready for restart.  We now know that the majority of tourism businesses should plan for 15 July to resume operations, depending on science.  How you prepare to reopen as part of the route map to recovery is crucially important.  There's a lot to consider and we've pulled together the resources available.

Visit Scotland: Get Tourism Ready

Visit Scotland: Moment of Change

Scottish Government: Tourism & Hospitality Sector Guidance

Scottish Government: Guidance for Campsites, Holiday Parks, Caravan Sites, Motorhome Hire businesses and their users

Scottish Government: Guidance fo the events sector in Scotland on safe reopening

Hospitality businesses

UKHospitality and partners in the hospitality sector have consolidated advice and good practice from many parts of the Scottish hospitality and visitor sector into one guidance document, to help businesses make their workplaces safe and secure, in line with Scottish Government guidance.

UKHospitality Advice and Guidance to Hospitality Businesses

Scottish Government: Tourism & Hospitality Sector Guidance

Business waste

If you are one of our business customers - let us know when you are reopening and contact us for a new Waste Transfer Note and invoice: [email protected] 

Read more about our waste and recycling services for businesses


Download: guidance for current licence holders and anyone planning to apply for a new licence. This explains the changes we are making to our licensing services to help minimise the disruption caused to licence holders by coronavirus.

Useful information

The below links offer more guidance and support from the Scottish Government and others partners.

Scottish Government: Phase Route Map

Business Gateway Back to Business Guides

Scottish Enterprise Guides for Businesses