What are the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Rules in Scotland Right Now?

Last Updated on 17/11/2020 at 15:26

Click on items in the list below to skip to the most up to date information on coronavirus (COVID-19) prevention, symptoms and restrictions in Scotland.

What's the current advice on...?

Preventing COVID-19

The Scottish Government is using the acronym FACTS.

FACTS stands for:

  • 😷 Face coverings
  • 🙅 Avoid crowded spaces
  • 🧼 Clean your hands regularly 
  • ↔️ Two metre distance
  • 🌡 Self isolate and book a test if you have symptoms

These are the steps recommended in order to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

Find out more about FACTS in school.

Symptoms of COVID-19

The main symptoms of coronavirus are:

  • a high temperature – this means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature)
  • a new, continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual)
  • a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste – this means you've noticed you cannot smell or taste anything, or things smell or taste different to normal

Most people with coronavirus have at least one of these symptoms.

If you have any of these symptoms you should self isolate immediately and book a test. 

When to self-isolate

Self-isolation is when you do not leave your home because you have or might have coronavirus (COVID-19). This helps stop the virus spreading to other people.

If you have any of the symptoms of coronavirus you should begin to self-isolate immediately for 14 days.

You should also self-isolate if:

  • you've tested positive for coronavirus – even if you're not experiencing symptoms
  • you live with someone who has symptoms or has tested positive, even if they're not experiencing symptoms
  • someone in your support bubble or extended household has symptoms or tested positive
  • you're told to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace
  • you get a notification through the Protect Scotland app
  • you arrive in the UK from a country with a high coronavirus risk – you can find a list of countries exempt from this rule on the Scottish Government's website.

If you're experiencing symptoms, you should book a test to check if you have coronavirus as soon as possible.

Getting tested for COVID-19

If you begin to experience symptoms of coronavirus, you must self-isolate for 14 days, beginning immediately.

You must book a test within the first 5 days of experiencing symptoms to provide the most accurate results, ideally within the first 3 days.

  • If you've been experiencing symptoms for 1-4 days already, you can book a home test to be delivered to you or you can visit a test site. If you're booking a home test kit on the fourth day of having symptoms, you need to book your test by 3pm. 
  • If you've been experiencing symptoms for up to 5 days already, you can book a test for any of your local drive-in sites. 

You must post a home test just after you've taken it, making sure it's in before the mail is collected from your local post box that evening.

If you're on your fifth day of experiencing symptoms, you won't be able to get a test and you should self-isolate for 14 days from when you first got symptoms. 

You can find information on who can be tested, when you must test and how to get a test at a drive-in site or sent to your home on the NHS UK website.

Book a test on the NHS Inform website

What are the levels and which is my local authority in?

On Monday 2nd November, Scotland moved to a new national framework for tackling the spread of coronavirus. Under this, different areas of the country have been assigned a level between 0-4 and will have to follow different rules depending on the infection rates locally.

To find out more about what this framework means, what happens at each level and what level your local authority is in, head to our page explaining it all. 

Physical distancing

Physical or social distancing means taking steps to help reduce the spread of infection and to reduce the number of people becoming unwell with coronavirus (COVID-19).

No matter if you are indoors or outdoors, if you're over the age of 12 you should ensure you are two metres apart from anyone outside of your household and continue to practice good hygiene - this includes meeting a friend at a restaurant or pub. See information below about visiting hospitality venues.

Wearing face coverings

Wearing a face covering or mask can help prevent catching coronavirus, and passing it on to others.

Places you must wear a face covering:

  • On public transport such as buses, trains and trams and taxi services, and in airports, bus and train stations
  • Supermarkets and retail shops, including beauty salons, pharmacies and take-aways
  • Hospitality venues such as restaurants, cafés, bars and pubs when moving around (entering the venue, leaving, going to the bathroom)
  • Other indoor public places, like libraries or places of worship
  • At school in places where physical distancing might be difficult (for example, in corridors). If your school is in a Level 3 or Level 4 area in the new levels framework, S4-S6 pupils must wear a face covering in classrooms. Find out more about wearing a face covering at school
  • At work places in communal areas such as in corridors or when walking around a workplace canteen.

See the full list of places you must wear a face mask or covering on the Scottish Government website.

People under five and those with certain medical conditions are exempt from wearing face coverings. Find out more on the Scottish Government website

For those who are exempt, you don't need to provide any proof of this but if it would make you feel safer or more comfortable in public then you can request an exemption card by filling out an online form or calling 0800 121 6240.

If necessary, the police can issue fines of £60 (halving to £30 if paid within 28 days) if you don't comply with this law without a reasonable excuse; such as being exempt due to a health concern or communicating with someone hard of hearing, who lip reads.

More regulations that extend the wearing of face coverings are being written up. These will focus on indoor communal settings including, for example, staff canteens and corridors in workplaces.

Meeting people indoors

Your house

From Friday 25th September, you aren't allowed to have visitors inside your home. Exemptions to this include if you live alone or alone with children and have formed part of an extended household, if you're adult and in a relationship with someone you don't live with and have formed an extended household together with any other people either of you live with, if you're a tradesperson, or if you require care at home from someone outside of your household. 

Someone else's house

From Friday 25th September, you aren't allowed to visit someone inside their house. Exemptions to this include if you live alone or alone with children and have formed part of an extended household, if you're adult and in a relationship with someone you don't live with and have formed an extended household together with any other people either of you live with, if you're a tradesperson, or if you require care at home from someone outside of your household.

You read the rules in detail on the Scottish Government website. 

In a public indoor space

See visiting indoor places like restaurants, pubs and cafés and other hospitality venues.

Since 2nd November, the new Levels Framework has been in place in Scotland meaning your area will have to follow the rules according to the level that has been assigned there.

The rules at each level for meeting others indoors are:

  • Level 0 - A total of up to 8 people from 3 households can meet indoors.
  • Level 1 - A total of up to 6 people from 2 households can meet indoors. This currently only applies to those who live in Shetland, Orkney and the Western Isles. If you live in Highland and Moray, indoor meetings are still banned. 
  • Level 2, 3 & 4 - No indoor socialising with other households.

At all levels, children under 12 from the households meeting, do not count towards the limits on the total number of people that can meet.

Find out more about the Levels Framework and what level your area is in in our article.

Meeting people outdoors

You can meet in outdoor spaces such as in the street, in parks or private gardens. When meeting another household, you should practice physical distancing (staying at least 2 metres apart). 

Since 2nd November, the new Levels Framework has been in place in Scotland meaning your area will have to follow the rules according to the level that has been assigned there.

The rules at each level for meeting others outdoors are:

  • Level 0 - A total of up to 15 people from 5 households, including your own, can meet outdoors.
  • Level 1 – A total of up to 8 people from 3 households, including your own, can meet outdoors.
  • Level 2, 3 & 4 - A total of up to 6 people from 2 households, including your own, can meet outdoors.

At all levels, in these places, anyone under the age of 12 from your or the other household that are part of your group, do not count towards the limits of people who can meet if adults aged 18+ are included in the group. Also, anyone under the age of 12, does not need to physically distance. 

If you're aged between 12 and 18, the same limits on numbers of people who can meet apply however there are no limits on the number of households this can be from.

Find out more about the Levels Framework and what level your area is in in our article.

Using public transport & travelling

When using public transport including buses, trains and trams, as well as taxis and private hires, you should wear a face covering unless exempt.

You should also wear a face covering, unless exempt, and practice physical distancing at train stations and bus stations.

You need to wear a face covering on planes and at airports (unless exempt) with physical distancing.

If you're arriving to Scotland from abroad, you may need to self-isolate for 14 days upon arrival. You can find a list of countries exempt from this rule on the Scottish Government's website.

Since 2nd November, the new Levels Framework has been in place in Scotland meaning your area will have to follow the rules according to the level that has been assigned there.

The rules at each level for travelling are:

Level 0, 1 & 2

  • No non-essential travel to or from areas of Scotland that are in Level 3 or higher.
  • Avoid car sharing with people outside of extended household if possible.
  • Wear a face covering on public transport unless exempt.
  • International quarantine rules apply.

Level 3

  • No non-essential travel into or out of the area.
  • Avoid car sharing with people outside of extended household if possible.
  • Avoid non-essential use of public transport.
  • Wear a face covering on public transport unless exempt.
  • International quarantine rules apply.

Level 4

  • No non-essential travel into or out of the area, may be limits on travel distance or a stay at home required.
  • Avoid car sharing with people outside of extended household if possible.
  • Do not use public transport except for essential purposes.
  • Wear a face covering on public transport unless exempt.
  • International quarantine rules apply.

Find out more about the Levels Framework and what level your area is in in our article.

Going to school, college or university

Schools, colleges and universities remain open.

FACTS should be followed as much as possible, and your school may have specific additional procedures in place.

Wearing a face covering between classes, at break and lunch times, and continuing physical distancing and good hygiene is also encouraged.

Since 2nd November, the new Levels Framework has been in place in Scotland meaning your area will have to follow the rules according to the level that has been assigned there.

On November 11th it was announced that students will be able to come home for the winter holidays if they wish to, and that there will be measures in place to ensure this happens safely.

Students will receive advice early on about returning home for the holidays from student welfare, and those who choose to stay over the holidays will continue to receive support from student welfare.

Universities have been asked to finish testing and assessments as early as possible. This is to allow students to reduce social contact for two weeks before returning home. Students are being asked to only make essential journeys, for example to the shops for food, for two weeks before they return home. This is to reduce the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) as much as possible. This will also allow for staggered departures of students returning home.

Students will be offered coronavirus tests before they return home. This includes lateral flow testing which gives quick results in around 30 minutes and tests for those who are asymptomatic (not showing any active symptoms but still might be carrying the infection).

The rules at each level for schools, colleges and universities are:

Level 0, 1 & 2

  • Schools open with standard protective measures.
  • Universities & colleges open with blended learning in place.

Level 3 & 4

  • Schools open with enhanced and targeted protective measures. S4-S6 pupils and teachers must wear a face covering in classrooms. 
  • Universities & colleges open with more restricted blended learning in place.

Find out more about the Levels Framework and what level your area is in in our article.

Living in student accommodation

As there have been some outbreaks at student accommodation, students have been reminded to stick with the current restrictions and follow these four points to help keep you and others safe:

  • If you experience symptoms, self isolate and book a test immediately. You can book a test by visiting the NHS Inform website.
  • Download the Protect Scotland app on your smartphone, from your app store. Find out more about the Protect Scotland app.
  • Follow the test and protect advice and advice from your university and if you're required self isolate for 14 days. This means you shouldn't be going out for anything including food and essentials. Speak to your university to get support, advice and help with getting your essentials. You should try to avoid close contact with other people you're living with, sleep alone, not share towels or toothbrushes and keep shared facilities (like bathrooms and kitchens) clean. 
  • Don't have house parties or gatherings in your student accommodation, instead socialise by visiting a hospitality venue like a bar, restaurant or pub. Find out more about the restrictions that apply in these venues.

Going to work

The current advice is that all workers must continue to work at home if it's possible for them to do so.

More information about what to expect if you're not able to work from home is available in our article on how work places will be impacted.

Since 2nd November, the new Levels Framework has been in place in Scotland meaning your area will have to follow the rules according to the level that has been assigned there.

The rules at each level for workplaces are:

Level 0, 1, 2 & 3

  • Workplaces are open but working from home is the default option.

Level 4

  • Only essential indoor workplaces can open along with outdoor workplaces in sectors such as construction and engineering.

Find out more about the Levels Framework and what level your area is in in our article.

Visiting shops and supermarkets

When visiting local shops and supermarkets, you are required to wear a face covering unless you are exempt for health reasons, such as anxiety, asthma or otherwise.

Many larger supermarkets have in-store priority slots for those at higher risk, the elderly, NHS workers and other essential/key workers.

Retail staff must wear a face covering too.

Since 2nd November, the new Levels Framework has been in place in Scotland meaning your area will have to follow the rules according to the level that has been assigned there.

The rules at each level for visiting shops and supermarkets are:

Level 0 & 1

  • Shops and close contact services such as hairdressers, barbers, tailors and beauticians are open.

Level 2

  • Shops and close contact services such as hairdressers, barbers, tailors and beauticians are open. Mobile close contact services aren't allowed. 

Level 3

  • Shops and close contact services such as hairdressers, barbers, tailors and beauticians are open but may have additional measures in place. Mobile close contact services aren't allowed.

Level 4

  • Non-essential shops and close contact services such as hairdressers, barbers, tailors and beauticians must close. Mobile close contact services aren't allowed.

Find out more about the Levels Framework and what level your area is in in our article.

Visiting indoor public places like restaurants, pubs and cafés

You should make sure you stay physically distant from people from other another household at all times, which means you will need to stay two metres apart from your friends.

There may be additional measures in place to minimise transmission of COVID-19, for example, hand sanitiser stations and increased ventilation. 

You will also need to wear a face covering (unless you're exempt) when moving around, for example when entering the venue, leaving, going to the bathroom. When going to the venue, you will be asked for your contact details as part of Test and Trace.

Since 2nd November, the new Levels Framework has been in place in Scotland meaning your area will have to follow the rules according to the level that has been assigned there.

The rules at each level for hospitality are:

Level 0

  • Pubs, restaurants and cafes are open with normal licensing rules and opening/closing times.
  • A total of up to 8 people from 3 households can meet indoors.
  • A total of up to 15 people from 5 households can meet outdoors.

Level 1

  • Pubs, restaurants and cafes are open with normal licensing rules and opening/closing times.
  • The maximum number of people you can meet indoors and outdoors is 6 from up to 2 separate households.  From 19 November 2020 this will increase to a maximum of 8 people from up to 3 households.

Level 2

  • Pubs, restaurants and cafes are open. Alcohol can only be sold with a main meal indoors, time restrictions may apply. Alcohol can continue to be sold outdoors with time restrictions in place.
  • The maximum number of people you can meet indoors and outdoors is 6 from up to 2 separate households.

Level 3

  • Pubs, restaurants and cafes are open but cannot sell alcohol indoors or outdoors. Time restrictions may apply.
  • The maximum number of people you can meet indoors and outdoors is 6 from up to 2 separate households.

Level 4

  • Pubs, restaurants and cafes must close.

In these places, anyone under the age of 12 from your or the other household that are part of your group, do not count towards the limit of people who can meet.

Find out more about the Levels Framework and what level your area is in in our article.

Visiting places of worship & life events

Places of worship can re-open for communal services and prayer. Numbers are limited to depending on the level your area is in.

People attending life events such as weddings or funerals will have to wear a face-covering throughout the ceremony. However, the couple getting married or having a civil partnership will not have to wear a face mask during the ceremony.

Numbers will be limited depending on which level your area is in. Since 2nd November, the new Levels Framework has been in place in Scotland meaning your area will have to follow the rules according to the level that has been assigned there.

The rules at each level for visiting places of worship are:

Level 0

  • Places of worship are open but restricted to a maximum of 50 people.
  • Life events can take place in a place of worship, registration office or hospitality venue with a maximum number of 50 people (including the couple, the witnesses and guests) providing the venue’s capacity allows for appropriate physical distancing.
  • Receptions and wakes can also take place with a maximum capacity of 50 people.

Level 1, 2 & 3

  • Places of worship are open but restricted to a maximum of 50 people.
  • Life events can take place in a place of worship, registration office or hospitality venue with a maximum number of 20 people (including the couple, the witnesses and guests) providing the venue’s capacity allows for appropriate physical distancing.
  • Receptions and wakes can also take place with a maximum capacity of 20 people.

Level 4

  • Places of worship are open but restricted to a maximum of 20 people.
  • Wedding ceremonies and civil partnership registrations can take place with a maximum capacity of 15 people (including the couple, the witnesses and guests) providing the venue’s capacity allows for 2 metre physical distancing.
  • Funerals and wakes can take place with a maximum capacity of 20 guests providing the venue’s capacity allows for appropriate physical distancing.
  • Wedding or civil partnership receptions cannot take place in level 4.
  • Other life events, such as Bar Mitzvahs & christenings can still take place as long as they are part of an act of worship and a maximum of 20 capacity is applied.

Find out more about the Levels Framework and what level your area is in in our article.

Other indoor public places

You can meet other households, with limits depending on the level in your area at other indoor public places, such as museums, libraries and other venues.

In these places, anyone under the age of 12 from your or the other household that are part of your group, do not count towards the limit of six people who can meet.

Since 2nd November, the new Levels Framework has been in place in Scotland meaning your area will have to follow the rules according to the level that has been assigned there.

The rules at each level for leisure and entertainment venues are:

Level 0 & 1

  • All venues are open with the exception of nightclubs.

Level 2

Cinemas and amusement arcades are open. The following venues must close:

  • Soft play
  • Funfairs
  • Indoor bowling
  • Theatres
  • Snooker and pool halls
  • Music venues
  • Casinos
  • Bingo halls
  • Nightclubs

Level 3 & 4

All venues must close.

Find out more about the Levels Framework and what level your area is in in our article.

What if you're high or extremely high-risk

If you're at more of a risk of being seriously ill with COVID-19, then you may be categorised as being at high risk or extremely high risk, and may be taking your own extra precautions, or may asked by the Scottish Government to 'shield' in the future.

At the moment, anyone who might have been shielding previously, should be following the same guidelines as everyone else.

From 2nd November, when the new Levels Framework comes into place in Scotland, those who previously followed shielding advice will be subject to different rules. You can find out more about what the new shielding advice will be on page 43 of the Scottish Government's official publication.

Find out what might make you high or extremely high risk in our Coronavirus Jargonbuster.

NHS Scotland Test & Protect App

NHS Scotland have developed an app that alerts you if you've come into close contact (within 2m distance for 15 minutes or longer) with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. You can also add your own positive test result to the app to alert others, but no one can see who they've come into contact with that has had COVID-19.

The app is available on the App Store and the Google Play Store and is available to anyone aged 16 or old.

Find out more about the Protect Scotland app.

More information from Young Scot on Coronavirus (COVID-19)