Guidance for seafood businesses on working safely during Covid-19

We have collated links to information and guidance for seafood businesses to follow on how to work safely during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Most of the links on this page lead to external websites.

Seafood businesses should follow updated advice and guidance on working safely. The situation continues to evolve and local and national restrictions mean that there are different sets of rules and guidance in different parts of the UK. We will continue to provide further updates as the situation develops.

July 2021 update: We are currently reviewing the content on this page to make sure that we are linking to current and relevant guidance as Covid-19 restrictions continue to reduce. In particular we are reviewing links on workplace testing in each of the four nations.

Onshore businesses (including seafood processing, retail and foodservice)


The UK Government has published guidance on cleaning surfaces in the workplace to reduce the risk of spreading Covid-19.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has produced a checklist for food businesses on how to reopen safely after being closed for a period. This is suitable for businesses in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The Food Resilience Industry Forum has published best practice advice on using cohorts as a way to reduce the impact of a potential outbreaks on businesses. Cohorting is a secondary line of defence which must compliment following restrictions and available guidance.

Safety In Action has shared advice relating to deliveries.

We have written guidance for fish and chips shops preparing to reopen for takeaway after a period of closure. This includes advice on:

  • food safety
  • dealing with incoming goods
  • managing customers
  • orders and payment
  • and making deliveries.

Information for businesses in England

England moved to Step 4 of the roadmap out of lockdown on 19 July 2021. Find out more about current restrictions in England here.


The UK Government has published guidance to help employers, employees and the self-employed understand how to work safely during coronavirus.

Guides covering different types of work have been produced to help ensure workplaces are as safe as possible. These also set out priority actions to take. Depending on your business you may need to refer to more than one guide.

Defra, FSA and Public Health England previously published specific guidance for food businesses. It covers the role of employers in prevention management and the management of cases in the workplace. This includes related activities such as worker transportation and accommodation. This guidance was withdrawn on 21 July 2021.

Public Health England has also published principles for local health protection teams on how to approach and handle outbreaks and incidents of Covid-19 in the workplace. Businesses may find it helpful to familiarise themselves with these.

FSA has guidance on hygiene and food safety requirements for food businesses to reopen and operate safely during COVID-19.

Trade body UKHospitality has published FAQs on the current rules as they apply to hospitality businesses in England. These have recently been updated to reflect the move to Step 4. They have previously published advice on covid secure working and risk assessments

Workplace Covid-19 testing in England (Information in this section may not be up-to-date)

Businesses where employees cannot work from home are being called on to sign up for the workplace coronavirus testing programme. This scheme involves the testing of asymptomatic employees (those with no Covid-19 symptoms) to identify cases that might otherwise go undetected and to help stop further spread of coronavirus.

Businesses in England with more than 50 employees have been invited to set up rapid, on-site Covid-19 testing centre for asymptomatic employees who are unable to work from home. Free lateral flow test kits are being provided until the end of June 2021.

Businesses in England with more than 10 employees who cannot offer onsite testing can now apply for free lateral flow test kits to allow asymptomatic employees to be regularly tested in their homes. To find out more and register to receive free test kits visit the UK Government’s websiteApplications must be completed by 12 April 2021.

Businesses in England with fewer than 10 employees should get in touch with their local authority to find out about access to community testing facilities.

For more information on accessing testing for asymptomatic workers in England contact

Information for businesses in Scotland

Find out more about current restrictions in Scotland here.

Scotland moved to protection level 0 on 19 July 2021. Check the level in your part of Scotland here.

The Scottish Government plans to lift all major Covid-19 restrictions on 9 August 2021 if the necessary conditions on vaccination and harm reduction continue. More information on moving beyond level 0 can be found here.

The Scottish Government has published guidance to help employers plan for a gradual return to offices when Scotland moves beyond level 0.

Specific business guidance is available for the:

These guides provide information on planning, operational procedures and checklists for employers, staff and, where applicable, customers.

Food Standards Scotland (FSS) continues to revise their Covid-19 guidance for food business operators and their employees. This includes:

FSS has also produced guidance for food business operators on the investigation of Covid-19 outbreaks. It includes a checklist on how to prepare for an Incident Management Team (IMT) investigation, which businesses may find helpful when reviewing their Covid-19 risk management plans.

Scotland Food & Drink has a checklist of some key Covid-19 controls to consider in the context of business risk assessments

UKHospitality has collated advice and guidance for hospitality businesses in Scotland.

Workplace Covid-19 testing in Scotland (Information in this section may not be up-to-date)

The Scottish Government is inviting certain businesses in Scotland to register to take part in a mass Covid-19 testing scheme. This scheme involves the testing of asymptomatic employees (those with no Covid-19 symptoms) who cannot work from home to identify cases that might otherwise go undetected and to help stop further spread of coronavirus.

Businesses with over 25 employees are eligible to apply if they are:

  • Higher risk food processing businesses (which includes seafood processors)
  • Food distribution businesses where the loss of a facility due to an outbreak could lead to impacts on food supply

Eligible businesses who are interested in taking part should email with the following information:

  • Name, business name, address and email with the main point of contact
  • Company registration number and industry sector code (these can be found on your Companies House registration)
  • Number of employees

Other businesses in Scotland who do meet the above criteria are also invited to get in touch at the above email address to register their interest.

Information for businesses in Wales

Wales moved to alert level 1 on 17 July 2021. View details of the current restrictions in Wales.


The Welsh Government has dedicated support and help for businesses and employers during Covid-19. This includes detailed advice and guidance on keeping safe in the workplace.

UKHospitality has published advice and guidance for hospitality businesses in Wales. This has been updated to reflect the move to alert level 1.

Workplace Covid-19 testing in Wales (Information in this section may not be up-to-date)

Read about the Welsh Government's workplace testing framework.

Information for businesses in Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland is following a pathway out of restrictions. Regulations changed on 26 July 2021.

NI Direct provides information on the current regulations and guidance for Northern Ireland


The Northern Ireland Executive has also published guidance for businesses and employers on workplace safety guidelines and social distancing and also guidance for workers.

There is also information specific to food businesses on how to work safely. This covers social distancing, hygiene processes, and new requirements businesses must follow as they develop new ways to work:

Information published in March 2021 on the planned pathway to ease restrictions for hospitality businesses can be found here. (See page 26)

The Northern Ireland Food and Drink Association has published best practice Covid-19 guidance reflecting good manufacturing practices in food manufacturing.

Tourism NI has produced guidance for the hospitality industry and guidance for restaurants, pubs and bars.

Workplace Covid-19 testing in Northern Ireland (Information in this section may not be up-to-date)

The Department of Health is inviting employers from key sectors within Northern Ireland to register their interest in taking part in the national testing programme. This programme involves the testing of asymptomatic employees (those with no Covid-19 symptoms) who cannot work from home to identify cases that might otherwise go undetected and to help stop further spread of coronavirus.

Businesses are invited to register if they:

  • Have more than 50 employees who cannot work from home
  • Are performing critical functions or delivering key services including in the agri-food, manufacturing and/or essential retail sectors

Find out more and complete an online expression of interest form on the Department of Health website.

Other sources of information, advice and guidance

The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) provides guidance on working safely during the coronavirus outbreak. This covers social distancing, staggering shifts and additional hygiene and staff management measures. 

The Food and Drink Federation (FDF) has a summary page on their website. It provides information on key worker status and social distancing measures for food manufacturers. There are also links to key government documents relevant to the food and drink industry.

The National Federation of Fish Friers (NFFF) provides resources on how to implement safe working practices and minimise risk in fish and chip shops and takeaway operations.

Working at sea and in port

We worked with Defra’s Marine and Fisheries Safer Working Group to produce a poster with guidance for fishermen and workers in and around ports and harbours. To request printed copies please email

The National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations (NFFO) has created a check-list risk assessment for fishing vessel owners and skippers. It contains advice on adapting operations to ensure safe fishing during Covid-19.

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) has produced a Marine Information Note containing guidance for vessel owners on practical steps to be taken regarding the management and mitigation of Covid-19 and minimising the risk to crew.

Public Health England, the Department for Transport and MCA previously provided guidance for shipping and sea ports on steps to be taken by vessel owners and at ports to prevent the spread of Covid-19. This was withdrawn on 19 July 2021 and relevant guidance is now included in COVID-19: Safer transport guidance for operators.

MCA has also published guidance on the reporting of diagnosed Covid-19 cases among seafarers on board ships, where there is reasonable evidence that it was caused by exposure at work.

The following UK Government guides also contain information relevant to fishing vessel operators to help ensure crew are as safe as possible:

Voluntary Covid-19 testing for fishing crew

Defra recommend that fishermen in England with no coronavirus symptoms take a voluntary Covid-19 test twice a week. Tests can be accessed through the community testing programme. Find out more about accessing free of charge, rapid tests in your area here.

Further information on testing in each nation of the UK is available under the relevant section for onshore businesses above.

Test and Trace – Information and Guidance for Employers

Testing and tracing is a central part of the UK’s Covid-19 recovery strategy. It helps monitor and provides vital early warning of increasing regional and local levels of Covid-19. Employers and businesses play an important role in assisting this programme to slow the spread of the virus. Follow the links below for employer information and guidance: