Publication - Advice and guidance

Coronavirus (COVID-19): tourism and hospitality sector

Guidance for the tourism and hospitality sector, including procedures for staff and customer safety.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): tourism and hospitality sector
Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

Frequently asked questions

These questions and answers are aimed at providing further clarity to sector businesses following publication of Scottish Government guidance. It is not separate to government guidance but designed to complement it.

Face coverings in hospitality settings


Q: Does a customer have to be seated to take their face covering off?
A: Face coverings must be worn at all times indoors. The regulations provide a number of exemptions for example children under 12 or individuals with health conditions. Additionally, in a hospitality setting, customers may remove their mask for the purposes of eating or drinking. Customers need not be seated to eat or drink. The regulations also provide an exemption for exercise which would include dancing. Unless eating, drinking or dancing or being seated at a table, therefore, when moving around, queuing at the bar, entering or leaving, going to the toilet etc. a face covering must be worn. This is a legal requirement.

Q: What if customers are not complying with the rules – what should operators do?
A: The responsibility is, in the first instance, on the individual to follow the rules. Operators should advise customers to follow the rules. If non-compliance is deliberate and persistent operators may wish to refuse service. Everyone is expected to play their part to ensure risk is kept to a minimum and help keep businesses open. Face coverings are a legal requirement which can, if appropriate, be enforced by the police through a fixed penalty notice.

Q: Are businesses still required to collect customer data?
A: Businesses are required to collect details of customers, either through the Check-In App or by means of another method. This responsibility lies with the business. Further information is available.

Q: Does every member of staff have to wear a face covering?
A: All staff are required to wear face coverings whilst in any communal indoor area. There is an exemption for:

  • staff who are more than two metres away from the public/colleagues or
  • they are behind a suitable partition or
  • they are undertaking food handling tasks, to avoid risk to the hygiene or safety of food arising from or in connection with the wearing of a face covering

Q: If a customer claims to be exempt from wearing a face covering for health reasons should we ask for proof?
A: There are certain exemptions from wearing face coverings – if a customer claims to be in this group you should accept their explanation. 

Q: If a staff member claims to be exempt from wearing a face covering for health reasons should we ask for proof?
A: Individual risk assessments for vulnerable employees require to be undertaken and any medical condition requiring exemption from face coverings may trigger this requirement.

Q: If there is only a small number of people who know each other and they meet in a public tourism or hospitality setting or take a tour in a car or minibus, would they all still need to wear a face covering?
A: Yes, a face covering must be worn in each of these settings even if the people know each other. This is to protect staff and other members of the public.

Activities in hospitality settings


Q: Do settings still need to collect contact details in support of contact tracing?
A: Yes, hospitality settings are still mandated by law to take measures to obtain and record the details of visitors to premises, store the data securely for 21 days, and provide the data to Public Health if requested to assist with contact tracing of cases linked to premises.

Q: Does a customer need to wear a covering when dancing?
A: An exemption exists for exercise. This exemption includes dancing in hospitality settings, (inclusive of nightclubs and wedding venues) who have dance facilities in terms of their Premises Licence. When circulating within a venue, a face covering must be worn unless a health exemption applies.

Q: If a customer is seated and waiting on the food at a restaurant, can they take their face covering off before their food arrives?
A: Yes, face coverings may be removed if seated in a hospitality setting and expecting to eat or drink. If circulating (for example going to the toilet or to the bar) a face covering must be worn. It can be removed again once re-joining the table.

Q: Can my customers drink at the bar?
A: Yes, although drinking at the bar or in areas which are likely to create pinch points is discouraged. Good practice should be followed to effectively manage the flow of visitors at pinch points.

Q: Does a face covering need to be worn when singing at a karaoke?
A: No, There is an exemption for performers. Performers must however maintain distance of at least one metre from others or a partition between performers and the audience should be installed. 

Q: Are pub quizzes, dominoes and other table/pub games permitted?
A: Yes, Good practice guidance should be followed in regards to hygiene. For more information, please see the Guidance on Good Practice page.

Weddings ceremonies, civil partnership registrations and receptions


Q: What about face coverings at marriage ceremonies?
A: Unless an exemption applies, those attending a wedding will need to wear a face covering at a marriage ceremony or civil partnership registration at an indoor public place. You can find further information on exemptions in our face coverings guidance.

Children under 12 are not required to wear a face covering. 

There will continue to be some exemptions from the requirements for face coverings that are specific to marriage and civil partnership.

The celebrant or local authority registrar leading a marriage ceremony or civil partnership registration is exempt from wearing a face covering. This is provided that they are either able to remain at least one metre from others present, or there is a screen or partition between them and others present.

The couple marrying or entering a civil partnership are exempt from wearing a face covering for the duration of the marriage ceremony or civil partnership registration. This is provided that the couple are able to maintain at least one metre from others present, or there is a screen or partition between them and others present. They must still wear a face covering in any public areas before going into the room where the ceremony is taking place, and once the ceremony is over.

If one of the couple is being accompanied down the aisle, both they and the guest (or guests) accompanying them, do not require to wear a face covering at this point in the ceremony.

Q: What about face coverings when eating, drinking, or dancing at a wedding?
A: Face coverings can already be removed for the purposes of eating or drinking, or when seated in a hospitality venue. Guests will also be able to remove face coverings when dancing at a wedding indoors.

  • for more information on the rules for weddings and funerals see the staying safe guidance (weddings and funerals section)



Central Enquiry Unit
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
Regent Road

First published: 16 Dec 2021 Last updated: 28 Feb 2022 -