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Source: Scotland – Highland Council

To support the economic recovery in the Highlands, the Council has today (Monday 22 June) launched a guide for shops and businesses to assist them with their plans to safely welcome back customers.

Following the overarching guidance provided by the Scottish Government, the Supporting Economic Recovery in Highland – A Guide for Businesses – contains lots of information, advice and support for shops, leisure facilities and other businesses likely to experience an upsurge in visitor numbers as lockdown restrictions are eased.

Individual shops and business owners and operators will be responsible for controlling and managing access to their premises in accordance with the most up to date government guidance on physical distancing.

The Highland Business Guide outlines the steps that businesses and the Council are likely to have to make to ensure the safe re-opening of premises and sites and to act upon legislation, and regulations to protect public health, restrict social gatherings and to maintain physical distancing.

It includes information on managing car parking and queuing outside premises to comply with physical distancing, licensing information on what is needed if a premises wants to serve alcohol in an outdoor area, how to apply for a permit to use an outside space that is not part of a premises, what is needed in terms of planning and the erection of temporary structures and how any structures can be safely used. Environmental Health information flags up the need for businesses to ensure that their Health and Safety Risk Assessments and Food Safety Management Systems are reviewed and updated to include physical distancing, queue control, protection of staff, supervision and public space layout and markings.

Normally planning permission is required to change the use of land where it is proposed to occupy space on a pavement, road, car park, park etc. In light of the current situation, the Guide explains that the council’s planning service will temporarily relax controls and take a reasonable and proportionate approach.

The Guide details the process for applying to sell alcohol on a temporary basis from an outside area which is not currently licensed.  It also signposts businesses to national guidance and provides helpful links to further information.

Leader of The Highland Council, Margaret Davidson welcomes the launch of the guide.  She said: “Our local businesses are all busy preparing to open their doors and have been working hard to ensure they are ready to respond to logistical and practical challenges and follow all the necessary guidance. Many of them are working closely and thoughtfully with their communities to do all they can to build confidence as we all get out and about more and also to welcome visitors.”

 “Key to the success of any changes in how businesses provide their services to the public and maintaining the health and safety of everyone is the ongoing support, understanding and patience of all. I’m sure businesses will find the information in the guide very helpful and I wish them all the very best as they get ready to welcome back customers.” 

Chair of the Highland Council’s Recovery Board, Cllr Alasdair Christie added: “The economic recovery here in the Highlands starts with our local retail and hospitality businesses and services so as a council we want to provide as much advice and support as possible.

“Many businesses are going to have to adapt how they operate. For example, a business wishing to use outdoor spaces as a new part of their operations will need to consider how these changes will impact upon their normal practices, as well as the additional control measures required for COVID-19.

“The guide gives clear advice on the necessary licensing and planning requirements as well as what is needed to comply with Environmental Health regulations and Food Safety management. It is a very relevant and practical way for the council to be able to provide details to assist businesses get back on their feet safely and successfully, so I encourage businesses to read it and contact us for any further advice or assistance.”

The guide is available on the Council’s website. As new guidance becomes available it will be updated.

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