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

Last Updated on 15/10/2020 at 13:27

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

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). 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

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. You can see the 

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.

Meeting people outdoors

You can meet one other household, in a maximum group of six people (including yourself) 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). 

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 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 you'll be able to meet up in groups of up to six in the same age group, from up to six households including yours, outdoors.

From Friday 9th October at 6pm, for 16 days until Sunday 25th October, the following areas will have some additional restrictions in place for meeting outdoors:

  • Greater Glasgow and Clyde (this includes the follow local authority areas Glasgow, East & West Dunbartonshire, East Renfrewshire, Renfrewshire & Inverclyde)
  • Ayrshire & Arran (this includes the follow local authority areas East, North & South Ayrshire)
  • Lankarshire (this includes the follow local authority areas  North and South Lanarkshire)
  • Lothian (this includes the follow local authority areas Edinburgh, East & West Lothian, Midlothian)
  • Forth Valley (this includes the follow local authority areas Clackmannanshire, Falkirk and Stirling)

If you're not sure if you're impacted by the restrictions, you can find out what local authority you live in on the My Government website.

In these areas, the following restrictions will apply:

  • Contact sports for people aged 18 and over will be suspended – with an exception for professional sports;
  • Outdoor live events will not be permitted.

Using public transport & travelling

Travelling outside of, or in to, the following areas is discouraged due to the current levels of infections locally: 

  • Greater Glasgow and Clyde (this includes the follow local authority areas Glasgow, East & West Dunbartonshire, East Renfrewshire, Renfrewshire & Inverclyde)
  • Ayrshire & Arran (this includes the follow local authority areas East, North & South Ayrshire)
  • Lanarkshire (this includes the follow local authority areas  North and South Lanarkshire)
  • Lothian (this includes the follow local authority areas Edinburgh, East & West Lothian, Midlothian)
  • Forth Valley (this includes the follow local authority areas Clackmannanshire, Falkirk and Stirling)

If you're not sure if you're impacted by the restrictions, you can find out what local authority you live in on the My Government website.

You should also avoid using public transport in these areas unless absolutely necessary, for example getting to work.

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.

Any non-essential travel (essential might be for essential work or for health reasons, or returning to your home country from somewhere) is still discouraged.

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

The First Minister announced on 14th October that people living in Scotland should avoid travelling to Blackpool, unless necessary, as well as other high-risk areas in the UK that are currently under tight restrictions.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Find out more about how to shop safely

Visiting indoor public places like restaurants, pubs and cafés

You can meet one other household, in a maximum group of six people (including yourself).

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.

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.

Pubs, bars and restaurants will close at 10pm from 25th September to help minimise the spread of the virus, they will also be required to offer table service. 

From Friday 9th October starting at 6pm and continuing for 16 days until Sunday 25th October the following rules apply:

  • Pubs, bars, restaurants and cafes can operate indoors from 6am to 6pm for the sale of food and non-alcoholic drinks only,
  • Hotels can operate beyond 6am but only for residents and without alcohol,
  • Bars, pubs, restaurants and cafes can continue to serve alcohol outdoors up to the existing curfew time of 10pm,
  • There are exemptions to these rules for life events such as weddings and funerals across Scotland,
  • The existing rules and limits on meeting other households all still apply.

However, the above rules are not in effect in the following areas:

  • East, North & South Ayrshire
  • Clackmannanshire, Falkirk & Stirling
  • Glasgow, East & West Dunbartonshire, East Renfrewshire, Renfrewshire & Inverclyde
  • North & South Lanarkshire
  • Edinburgh, East & West Lothian, Midlothian

Instead, in these areas during the 16 days outlined these venues will be required to close indoors and outdoors, though takeaways will be permitted. The only exception to this is if a cafe doesn't serve alcohol, they will be able to stay open until 6pm. 

Other restrictions apply in these areas, including:

  • Snooker and pool halls, indoor bowling alleys, casinos and bingo halls will close in these areas for two weeks from 10 October,
  • Indoor group exercise activities will not be allowed – although the current rules will remain in place for under 18s. Gyms can remain open for individual exercise.

Visiting places of worship 

Places of worship can re-open for communal services and prayer. Numbers are limited to a maximum of 50.

Wedding ceremonies and civil partnerships are allowed up to 20 number of people in attendance including the couple, catering staff. People attending the wedding 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. 

Other indoor public places

You can meet one other household, in a maximum group of six people (including yourself) 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.

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.

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)