Guidance for food businesses on coronavirus (COVID-19)

Last updated: 2 April 2020 at 8.30am

What you need to know about coronavirus (COVID-19) and food

Scientific advice is that it is very unlikely that COVID-19 can be spread through food, but if you are continuing to operate your food business then you must think through the hazards and ensure that you have control measures in place.

All food businesses whether established or starting up should familiarise themselves with the latest guidance issued by Public Health England on the Coronavirus situation. This guidance includes information on the social distancing measures to be employed by food businesses that remain open and general hygiene information.

Please make sure that you are familiar with the guidance:

Government guidance for food businesses on Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Social distancing - general advice

The advice on social distancing measures applies to everyone. You need to minimise opportunities for the virus to spread by maintaining a distance of two metres between individuals. This advice applies to both inside the food business and in the external public areas where customers may need to queue. You must also think about how you undertake food deliveries if you are intending to do these. People should be reminded to wash their hands for 20 seconds and more frequently than normal.

The practical implementation of this advice will depend on the local circumstances. This may be best evaluated by the food business manager, however a few general indicators may be relevant to the majority of retail outlets and situations:

  • Use additional signage to ask customers not to enter the shop if they have symptoms.
  • Regulate entry so that the premises do not become overcrowded
  • Use floor markings inside the commercial spaces to facilitate. compliance with the social distancing advice of two metres, particularly in the most crowded areas, such as serving counters and tills.
  • Use vertical signage to direct customers into lanes if feasible to facilitate movement within the premises while maintaining two metre distance.
  • Make regular announcements to remind customers to follow social distancing advice and clean their hands regularly.
  • Place plexiglass barriers at tills and counters if feasible, as an additional element of protection for workers and customers.
  • Encourage the use of contactless payments where possible, without disadvantaging older or vulnerable customers.
  • Provide additional pop-up handwashing stations or facilities if possible, providing soap, water and hand sanitiser.

Further information on social distancing and adults who are at increased risk of coronavirus (COVID-19) can be found on GOV.UK.

Advice for businesses undertaking food deliveries and takeaways

All foods must be produced and sold/delivered to consumers in a way that ensures that they are not, or do not become, unsafe or unfit to eat. Food businesses should familiarise themselves with the following guidance issued by the Food Standards Agency:

Business guidance for food delivery and takeaways

If you are transporting food then ensure that hot food is kept hot and cold food is kept cold during the delivery. Foods that need refrigerating must be kept cool while they are being transported. They may need to be packed in an insulated box with a coolant gel or in a cool bag.

If you are transporting hot food, it should be kept hot. This may need to be packed in an insulated box. It is recommended to keep distances short and times limited to within 30 minutes.

Please remember that if you are offering a delivery service you must control contact with other people when delivering orders. You should consider leaving deliveries at the door of your customer. Do not hand the delivery to them. Knock on the door, step back at least two metres and wait nearby for your customer to collect it.

Take payments over the phone or internet rather than taking a cash payment.

Businesses offering food online and by mail order

This guidance provides information for businesses selling food online, which outlines legal requirements and safety considerations.

Business guidance for selling online and mail order food

New businesses

If you are setting up a new food business then you must make sure that it has been registered with a local authority. This should be completed at least 28 days before you intend to open the business.

If you have not registered your business then this can be done via

Please make sure that you are familiar with the guidance documents referred to in the sections above as far as they apply to your business. You should also work through the checklist and guidance links in the document below:

PDF document Your checklist for ensuring food safety (PDF) [416 kb]

General business guidance and information about businesses which must close

We understand that many of you are worried and might be confused about what help is available, how you access it and how you should conduct your day-to-day business going forward. Our general advice page provides you with the latest information on business support being offered through the period of disruption caused by COVID-19:

Specific Information about which businesses must close during this pandemic can be found at:

Business closure guidance

If you would like to discuss this further or require any other food safety advice please contact the Environmental Health Team via email Alternatively call 01256 844844 and ask for an officer to call you back.

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