Publication - Advice and guidance

Coronavirus (COVID-19) protection levels: what you can do

Published: 13 Apr 2021
Last updated: 23 Apr 2021 - see all updates

Coronavirus restrictions remain in place. Find out the rules on what you can and cannot do.

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10 page PDF

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Contents
Coronavirus (COVID-19) protection levels: what you can do
Level 3

10 page PDF

119.7 kB

Level 3: what you can and cannot do

If you live on one of the following islands you should follow the rules for Level 3:

  • Orkney
  • Shetland
  • the following islands in Argyll and Bute: Coll, Colonsay, Erraid, Gometra, Iona, Islay, Jura, Mull, Oronsay, Tiree, and Ulva
  • all islands in Highland, except for Skye which is at Level 4
  • Na h-Eileannan an lar (Western Isles) 

Mainland Scotland and some islands are at Level 4.

You can check the level where you live by using the postcode tool

What's changing

Some of the rules on what you can do have changed. You can now:

  • meet in groups of up to 6 from 6 households outdoors in your garden or a public place
  • travel anywhere in Scotland to meet others for the above purposes - but you must not stay away from your local council area (or for Highland or Argyll and Bute, the Level 3 or Level 4 part of those areas that you live in) overnight 

The new Level 3 guidance which will come into force at 00:01 on 26 April has still to be updated

Meeting others indoors (socialising)

 

You should not meet anyone who is not in your household indoors in your home or in their home. You can meet one other household indoors in a public place such as a café or restaurant. The maximum number of people who can meet indoors in a public (not a home) place is 6 which can be from up to 2 separate households. 

Children under the age of 12 from these households do not count towards the total number of people permitted to gather indoors in a public place but do count towards the maximum of 2 households permitted to meet. For example a children’s party with 10 children from more than 2 separate households would not be allowable, but 6 adults and 4 children from 2 households could meet.

Children under 12 do not need to maintain physical distance from others indoors.

Where an individual household includes more than 6 people, they can nevertheless meet as a single household even if the total number of people exceeds 6.

You can go into another person’s house only for certain reasons, such as for essential work, to join your extended household or to provide care and support for a vulnerable person. This can include providing emotional support for someone whose wellbeing is at risk, including for those who are isolated because of disability or a caring situation or where they are a parent or carer of a child under one. Read Coronavirus (COVID-19): advice for unpaid carers.

When you meet people from another household indoors you should:

  • minimise the number of meetings you have with people from other households each day
  • stay at least 2 metres apart from anyone who is not part of your household, unless in a public venue that is operating 1 metre distancing with additional measures being in place to avoid transmission.
  • maintain hand and cough hygiene
  • avoid touching hard surfaces with your hands
  • wash your hands when you arrive, when you leave, when you get home and especially before eating or after touching surfaces
  • not share food or utensils – if eating, each household should bring, prepare and eat its own food separately
  • if possible, keep rooms well ventilated – consider opening windows or a door

Those at a higher risk of severe illness from coronavirus (including those who had been shielding, people 70 and over, people who are pregnant and people with an underlying medical condition) should strictly follow the physical distancing guidance. 

Meeting others outdoors (socialising)

 

You can meet people from other households outdoors in a private garden or in a public place such as a park or an outdoor area of a cafe. The maximum number of people who can meet outdoors is 6 which can be from up to 6 separate households.

2m physical distancing should be maintained between members of different households.

Children under the age of 12 do not count towards the total number of people or households counted in a gathering. Children under 12 do not need to maintain physical distance from others. This is to allow children under 12 to play with their friends outside.

Where an individual household includes more than 6 people, they can continue to meet outside as a household even if the total number of people exceeds 6.

You can also travel anywhere in Scotland to meet others for the purpose of outdoor exercise and recreation but you must not stay away overnight from the Level 3 area in which you live.

You should:

  • minimise the number of meetings you have with people from other households each day
  • stay at least 2 metres away from anyone who is not part of your household
  • maintain hand and cough hygiene
  • avoid touching hard surfaces with your hands
  • wash your hands when you arrive, when you leave, when you get home and especially before eating or after touching surfaces
  • not share food or utensils – if eating, each household should bring, prepare and eat its own food separately

Those at a higher risk of severe illness from coronavirus (including those who had been shielding, people 70 and over, people who are pregnant and people with an underlying medical condition) should strictly follow the physical distancing guidance.

Going into someone else’s home (socialising)

 

If you are meeting people from another household in their garden, you should only go into their house to:

  • access the garden – do so quickly and without touching anything
  • use the toilet – avoid touching surfaces with your hands as much as possible, wipe any surfaces that you do touch with antibacterial wipes, wash your hands thoroughly, dry your hands with a freshly laundered towel or a paper towel, which you should dispose of in a closed bin.

If members of another household are going to visit you and might need to use your toilet, you should ensure appropriate cleaning materials are available. You should also provide either a hand towel for each visiting household or paper towels and a safe disposal option.

Extended households

 

An extended household is a support network which joins two households.

You can form an extended household with another household of any size if you:

  • live by yourself
  • are a single parent
  • are part of a couple who lives apart – including any children you each live with

Read more about extended households.

Shared parenting

 

Where parents do not live in the same household, children can move between their parents’ homes in all levels, this includes both supervised and unsupervised visitation. 

 Read more: 

Hospitality

 

Restaurants, cafes, pubs and bars can open indoors and outdoors for the consumption of food and non-alcoholic drinks. Alcoholic drinks cannot be served. Last entry is 17:00 and all venues must be closed and all customers off the premises by 18:00. The hospitality sector should follow: sector guidance for tourism and hospitality

The maximum number of people you can meet indoors in a restaurant, café, pub or bar is 6 which can be from up to 2 separate households. 

The maximum number of people you can meet outdoors in a restaurant, café, pub or bar is 6 which can be from up to 6 separate households. 

Children under the age of 12 from these households do not count towards the total number of people permitted to gather indoors in a public place but do count towards the maximum of 2 households permitted to meet. For example a children’s party with 10 children from more than 2 separate households would not be allowable, but 6 adults and 4 children from 2 households could meet.

Where an individual household includes more than 6 people they can continue to meet as a household in hospitality premises, although the venue may impose a smaller group limit.

Table service and the wearing of face-coverings (unless exempt) when not seated by all customers is mandatory in all hospitality venues. When meeting people from more than one other household, you should think beforehand about what size of table you will need to keep physically distanced between members of your group. The venue you are visiting should be able to advise you of booking options.

You will be asked by the venue to provide your contact details for Test and Protect purposes. This information is retained for 21 days with a view to sharing with Test and Protect Teams, if required. 

Hospitality venues are required to put in place additional measures to minimise transmission of COVID-19. For example hand sanitiser stations and adequate ventilation. There will also be signs to inform customers whether the venue is in a 2 metres or 1 metre social distancing area.

You should stay at least 2 metres apart from people from other households at all times, unless the venue is operating 1 metre distancing due to additional measures being in place to avoid transmission. Physical distancing and good hand hygiene remain the most effective measures in reducing the transmission of COVID-19. Therefore, distancing requirements need to be maintained, where reasonably practicable, at all times, including when waiting to enter premises and when seated. 

You should avoid visiting multiple hospitality premises on the same day. In particular, do not visit more than one pub or bar on the same day, as this increases the risk of transmission.

Takeaways can still operate as normal, provided food and drink is sold for consumption off the premises. Face coverings and physical distancing rules must be followed.

Hotels and other accommodation providers can still serve food to guests staying in their premises up to 22:00. Room service, including alcohol, is allowed as normal.

Holiday accommodation

 

All holiday accommodation (hotels, B&Bs, self-catering, caravan and camping sites) can stay open in line with sector guidance for tourism and hospitality

However, tourists should not travel to or from a Level 3 area for holidays or visits, except for the travel permitted for meeting others, outdoor exercise or recreation, subject to the social gathering limits and which, for that purpose, must not involve an overnight stay away from the local authority area (or for Highland or Argyll and Bute, the Level 3 or Level 4 part of those areas that you live in) in which they live.

Exceptions for essential travel includes those who must travel for work, education, health, participate in or facilitate shared parenting or for those attending weddings or funerals which requires an overnight stay.

Those living in a Level 3 area can still use holiday accommodation in their area but should not stay in the same self-catered accommodation with another household.

You cannot stay with family and friends outwith your extended household for the purpose of socialising or leisure purposes in a Level 3 area.

Workers' accommodation

 

Travel and transport

 

You must not travel into or out of Level 3 and 4 local authority areas except for essential reasons. See further guidance on travel and transport and view maps of local authority area boundaries.

Shopping

 

All retailers can open.  They should  follow and have implemented Scottish Government guidance to ensure the safety of customers and staff. 

Whilst retailers will implement procedures to ensure the safety of customers and staff, it is an individual’s responsibility to ensure they comply with the following guidance:

  • do not visit any retail premises if you have tested positive or have developed any of the COVID-19 symptoms
  • you must wear a face covering when you go into any retail premises including any indoor area of a shopping centre, unless exempt. Read the face covering policy
  • maintain a 2 metre physical distance between other people
  • you must follow direction signs, customer flow systems and shop capacities as indicated by the retailer
  • during this period adults, unless accompanying a vulnerable person or a child or children under 18, should shop alone

In order to keep transmission rates as low as possible, you are also advised to:

  • avoid crowded shops. Try to avoid times when shops will be busy. If you do not think you can maintain physical distancing in a shop, go back later.
  • visit stores that are using infection control measures and use the available hand sanitiser and sanitising stations
  • try to avoid touching goods unless you intend to buy them
  • be polite. Please ensure that you are considerate to retail staff and abide by their guidance and instructions, including removing your face covering if requested for proof of age.
  • restrictions on travel for non-permitted activities across local authority boundaries remain in place.  Non-essential shopping is not an exception to this . You must stay within your council area for non-essential shopping (including Click and Collect) and should only travel to another area for essential shopping if there are no practical alternatives​​

Tradespeople, home repairs, and working in someone else’s home

 

Tradespeople can work in other people’s homes (essential services only in level 4) providing they follow guidance on working safely. This includes all in-home workers such as utility engineers, domestic cleaners, furniture delivery and installations.

Mobile close contact services such as hairdressers or beauticians must follow separate guidance for mobile close contact services.

Tradespeople who deliver goods or services to homes and businesses can travel between all levels for work purposes.

Safety when working in someone else’s home

When working in someone’s house you should stay 2 metres apart from the people who live there, wear a face covering and follow good hand and respiratory hygiene.

Close contact retail services

 

Mobile close contact service providers must not operate in level 3 with the exception of hairdressers and barbers.

Other close contact retail services are permitted to operate providing they follow Scottish Government guidance to ensure the safety of customers and staff. 

Read more: 

Close contact services include:

  • hairdressing and barbers
  • beauty and nail services (including make-up)
  • hair removal
  • tattoo, piercing and body modification
  • fashion design, dress-fitting and tailoring
  • indoor portrait photography and art services
  • massage therapies
  • complementary and alternative medicine services requiring physical contact or close physical proximity between persons, but not osteopathy and chiropractic services
  • spa and wellness services
  • other services or procedures which require physical contact or close physical proximity between a provider and a customer and are not ancillary to medical, health, or social care services

Whilst close contact retail service providers will implement mandated safety procedures to ensure the safety of customers and staff it is an individual’s responsibility to ensure they comply with the following guidance:

  • people should not visit any close contact service premises if they have tested positive or have developed any of the COVID-19 symptoms
  • face coverings should be worn at all times by staff and customers, unless they are exempt. Read the face covering guidanceClose contact service providers cannot provide any service within the high-risk zone, such as a facial or beard trim or other procedures which requires a customer to remove their face covering
  • close contact service premises may have a maximum capacity so customers should arrive at the time of their appointment and be prepared to queue outside
  • customers should stay at least 2 metres apart

Customers should be asked for contact details for Test and Protect purposes. This information should be collected in a safe and secure manner, which is compliant with data protection legislation and in line with existing guidance.

Stadia and events

 

Stadia must be closed to spectators.

No live events are permitted.

Sports and exercise

 

You are permitted to meet others outdoors, following the rules around meeting other households, for informal exercise or sport.

Under 18s

All organised sports and activities are permitted, provided appropriate safety measures are followed.

Sports organisations will need to refer to guidance produced by their Scottish Governing Body of Sport and ensure they operate in line with the guidance.

Read the sport and physical activity guidance.

Adults

Organised outdoor non-contact sports, personal training and coaching are permitted, provided appropriate safety measures are followed. Outdoor contact sports are not permitted, except for professional sport 

Sports organisations will need to refer to guidance produced by their Scottish Governing Body of Sport and sportscotland and ensure they operate in line with the guidance.

Exercise is permitted indoors, abiding by the rules on meeting other households. No group exercise classes or sports (contact or non-contact) are permitted indoors.

You can meet in groups of up to 6 adults from 6 households for exercise outdoors (under 12s do not count towards the number of people meeting or households), and travel anywhere in Scotland for that purpose (but you must not stay away from your local council area (or for Highland or Argyll and Bute, the Level 3 or Level 4 part of those areas that you live in) overnight).

Driving lessons

 

Driving lessons are permitted. Specific guidance can be found at: Coronavirus (COVID-19): vehicle lessons.

Leisure and entertainment

 

All leisure and entertainment premises must be closed (except for use in limited circumstances).

Film and TV production can continue to take place. All such activity must be done in compliance with industry guidance .

Public buildings

 

Public buildings such as libraries or community centres can open to the public. When visiting you should comply with the physical distancing and hygiene measures in place. Anyone visiting a building will either be required by law to wear a face covering (unless exempt) or be advised to wear one.

Some public buildings will operate an on-line booking system and some may have dedicated opening times for high risk groups. 

Read more: guidance for public libraries

Additional protective measures may be in place, beyond those in place at Levels 0 and 1.

Courts and Tribunals will remain open.  Further details are available from the Scottish Courts and Tribunals website.

Visitor attractions

 

All indoor and outdoor visitor attractions such as museums, galleries, educational and heritage attractions, zoos and aquariums can open providing there are physical distancing and hygiene measures in place.  When visiting you should comply with the physical distancing and hygiene measures in place. Check in advance for visiting arrangements such as pre-bookable time slots. Face coverings indoors are compulsory for all visitors and staff.

Visitor attractions with retail and hospitality facilities can open in level 3 in line with retail and hospitality guidance:

Public and customer toilets can be opened as long as it is safe to do so. Where toilets are part of a larger premises e.g. a shop, face coverings must be worn. 

You must not meet socially at a visitor attraction in a group of more than 6 people from 2 separate households indoors or 6 people from 6 separate households outdoors.

Specific sector guidance can be found at:

Places of worship

 

Places of worship are required to take measures to protect individuals, worshippers, staff members and volunteers from infection by COVID-19. Indoor acts of worship are limited to a maximum of 50 people providing there is sufficient space to maintain 2 metre distancing. Where that is not possible capacity will be reduced. The 2 metre distance is not required between members of the same household or extended household group, or between a carer and the person assisted by the carer. 

Events such as bar mitzvahs and christenings can take place as part of an act of worship with a maximum of 50 people.

Places of worship are required to maintain a temporary register of worshipper and staff/volunteer contact details for a period of 21 days for Test and Protect. This is to support contact tracing as part of NHS Scotland’s Test and Protect system, in the event of an outbreak linked to a particular venue.

Life events (inc. weddings and funerals)

 

Wedding ceremonies, civil partnership registrations and funerals 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 post-funeral gatherings, such as wakes, can also take place with a maximum capacity of 20 people.

People from different extended households should stay at least 2 metres apart.

Face coverings must be worn except for the couple getting married or entering a civil partnership and the person leading the ceremony during a wedding ceremony or civil partnership. 

Childcare

 

From 15 March, we plan:

  • a return to full-time in-school learning for all remaining primary school children  (P4 to 7)
  • a part-time return for all secondary school pupils, with a combination of some in-school learning and continued high quality remote learning and priority being pupils in years 4 to 6 taking national qualifications
  • a re-start of regulated childcare, including breakfast and after-school clubs

These plans are conditional on continued progress on suppressing coronavirus (COVID-19).

School buildings are currently open to:

  • pupils in P1 to 3 (full-time)
  • the children of key workers and vulnerable pupils
  • senior phase pupils for practical work

Guidance for schools.

Information for parents and carers is on the Parent Club website.

Schools

 

All schools are expected to re-open for full-time in-school learning following the Spring break holidays (pupils returning to school in the period 12–20 April).

This means that from the 12-20 April:

  • an expected return to full-time in-school learning for all secondary school pupils 
  • the continuation of full-time in-school learning for all primary school pupils, as from 15 March
  • the continuation of regulated childcare, including breakfast and after-school clubs, as from 15 March

These plans are conditional on continued progress on suppressing coronavirus (COVID-19).

Information for parents and carers is on the Parent Club website, and full guidance for schools was updated on 24 March.

 

Colleges and universities

 

From 5 April, colleges can bring back students for in-person learning in subject areas which have been identified by Colleges Scotland as most at risk of not being able to complete this academic year. Universities will continue to operate with a 5% of total students at any one time limit on in-person learning, with some flexibility for smaller institutions and for postgraduate students.

From 26 April, both colleges and universities will operate within the regional level in which they are located, meaning that they will operate ‘Restricted Blended Learning’ in Levels 4 and 3, and ‘Blended Learning’ in Levels 2, 1 and 0.  Further information on what this will involve can be found at guidance for higher and further education institutions and student accommodation providers.​​​​

Unregulated children’s activities 

 

Unregulated activities and services for children and young people include groups such as Brownies or faith-based classes for children, and activities for parents and children such as baby and toddler groups.

Some activities are permitted.

Public services

 

Public services will be delivered online where possible. Face-to-face services can continue where this is essential.

Offices, call centres and other workplaces

 

People are advised to work from home wherever that is practicable.

Businesses which provide essential services can continue to operate, such as those in the Critical National Infrastructure (CNI) sector, courts and tribunals. There are 13 designated CNI sectors including agriculture and food production, activity to maintain the food supply chain, energy and transport.

Not all CNI activity will be essential. Those operations which can be done effectively through home working should be adopted.

Visiting hospitals

 

Visiting care homes

 

From early March (or before, if care homes are ready), care home visiting guidance will change to allow each care home residents to:

  • receive up to two indoors visits a week
  • have up to two designated indoor visitors – but only one person can visit at a time

Essential visits should be supported at all times. Garden or window visits are also allowed. 

Care home visits are classed as essential travel so you can travel to or from any area for this reason.

For more information:

Shielding

 

Contact with others

Limit meeting people outside your own household, avoid indoor public spaces.

Shopping

Strictly follow the guidelines when shopping and limit the number of times you go to a shop. Shop at quieter times.

If you cannot work from home

Speak to your employer to ensure all appropriate protections are in place.

The majority of workplaces can be made safe. Where you have a concern you should discuss this with your employer.

School/ formal childcare

Parents or guardians should discuss with their GP or clinician whether children should still attend.

Domestic abuse support

 

Coronavirus rules and guidance do not prevent anyone from leaving their home to escape domestic abuse or taking other measures to keep themselves safe from domestic abuse.

If you, or someone you know, is experiencing domestic abuse help is available.

Call Scotland’s Domestic Abuse Helpline on 0800 027 1234 or visit Safer.Scot.

Domestic abuse is a crime. Call 101 to report it or 999 in an emergency.

Support services

 

Support groups and one to one support should be delivered remotely where possible but may be delivered in-person if remote delivery is not possible. If services must take place in-person, relevant guidance must be followed. Examples of support services include peer support groups, talking therapy groups, day centres, respite care, one to one talking therapy and counselling. Support services do not include close contact retail services, such as massage, which are covered by separate guidance on this page.

View a PDF table showing what you can and cannot do at protection level 3.


Contact

Email: Covid19OutbreakManagement@gov.scot

First published: 13 Apr 2021 Last updated: 23 Apr 2021 -