Coronavirus: Guidance for businesses

News article

Best practice steps that businesses can take to minimise the risk of coronavirus spreading 

There are many practical steps that you can take to minimise the risk of COVID-19 spreading. The guidance on this page should be used by businesses to help inform decision-making on how you can limit the spread of coronavirus.

Gatherings, events, entertainment, leisure and sporting activities

This advice applies to any setting where people gather for leisure, entertainment, cultural or sporting activities, including theatres, concert halls, nightclubs, conference and exhibition centres, museums, galleries, cinemas, libraries, amusement arcades, bowling alleys, indoor play areas and snooker and pool halls.

If you are organising or operating an indoor or outdoor gathering, you are strongly recommended to carry out a risk assessment to determine the maximum number of people that should be permitted entrance.

A risk assessment should be completed for:

  • outdoor gatherings involving more than 30 people
  • indoor gatherings involving more than 15 people

You should take all reasonable measures to limit the risk of transmission of COVID-19.

You are also strongly recommended to:

  • promote that Rapid Lateral Flow tests are taken before attending the indoor or outdoor gathering - lateral flow tests are free and provide a result within 30 minutes at home
  • encourage the wearing of face coverings in any indoor public space, including when entering and leaving a venue or gathering, and for its duration - staff, officials, spectators and audiences should be encouraged to wear a face covering at all times
  • keep indoor spaces well ventilated at all times
  • ensure social distancing is maintained where possible. There are certain measures that can be put in place to support social distancing such as;
    • consider how queues are managed so that the flow of people can be controlled in a socially-distanced way, reducing the risk of congestion or contact
    • introduce a one-way system
    • have clear signage to reiterate social distancing measures in place
    • staggering arrival and departure times
    • introduce a booking system to help with managing numbers, particularly for activities where demand will be high
  • purchase tickets in advance if possible and use cards and scanners rather than handling cash or paper tickets
  • ask for proof of COVID status for entry, depending on the type of setting
  • collect visitor and attendee information to help with the Test, Trace, Protect contact tracing programme
  • promote good hand hygiene, including hand sanitising; stations should be made widely available and regularly filled, and frequently touched surfaces, such as door handles, cleaned regularly

Hospitality and tourism

It is strongly recommended that a risk assessment be carried out to determine the maximum number of people that should be permitted entry to hospitality and tourism settings, including tourist accommodation providers who sell or provide food or drink (whether licensed or unlicensed) for consumption on the premises

It is strongly recommended that all hospitality and tourism settings take all reasonable measures to limit the risk of transmission of COVID-19.

You are also strongly recommended to:

  • keep indoor spaces are well ventilated at all times
  • encourage individuals to wear a face covering in any indoor public space and should only be removed if seated at a table in a restaurant, café or bar, or when eating, drinking or dancing
  • maintain social distancing where possible and put in place measures such as one-way systems and queuing arrangements to help avoid congestion
  • ask for proof of COVID status for entry, depending on the type of setting
  • collect visitor and attendee information to help with the Test, Trace, Protect contact tracing programme

Retail and close contact services

It is strongly recommended that retail premises carry out a risk assessment and take all reasonable measures to limit the risk of transmission of the coronavirus.

Face coverings should be worn in retail premises, including an indoor area of a shopping centre, and when providing close contact services.

Retail businesses vary significantly in terms of size, layout and capacity, however, consideration should be given to social distancing, one-way systems, screens, barriers and capacity management.

Good hand hygiene, including hand sanitising, is strongly recommended. The handles on trolleys/baskets should be wiped before and after use. The use of a contactless payment card should be encouraged if possible.

Close contact services should collect visitor and attendee information to help with the Test, Trace, Protect contact tracing programme.

Workplace safety

For more guidance and practical steps on keeping your workplace COVID-19 secure, see working safely in different business settings and workplace safety guidelines.


First published 24 March 2020