Level 4: what you can do

All of Scotland is currently at Level 3. From 17 May, mainland Scotland and some islands will move to Level 2. Some islands will move to Level 1. Moray is likely to remain at Level 3. Find out more about the changes from 17 May.

Main points

At Level 4:

  • you can meet in groups of up to 4 from 2 households outdoors in a private garden or a public place
  • you must not travel outside the level 4 area unless you have a reasonable excuse to travel, such as going to work or supporting a vulnerable person
  • under 12s do not count towards the total number of people or households meeting outside
  • you can only go into someone else’s home for certain reasons such as to carry out essential work, to join your extended household or to care for a vulnerable person
  • you can provide informal childcare, for example to look after a grandchild, but only where this is essential
  • 20 people can attend a funeral or a wedding.  Receptions and wakes are not permitted
  • tradespeople can carry out only essential work and repairs in your home
  • you should work from home where possible

What can open at Level 4

Places and business that can open at Level 4 include:

  • non-mobile hairdressers and barbers by appointment only 
  • essential shops and stores 
  • places of worship subject to physical distancing capacity guidelines

What must close at Level 4

Places and business that must close at Level 4 include:

  • hospitality venues like cafés, pubs and restaurants (except for delivery and takeaway)
  • close contact services (except for non-mobile hairdressers and barbers)
  • gyms and swimming pools
  • libraries (except for pre-booked computer access and click and collect)
  • holiday accommodation (except for essential customers)
  • all indoor visitor attractions (outdoor areas can remain open)
  • indoor sports facilities like gyms and swimming pools

This is not a full list. You can get more information in the sections below.

Meeting others indoors in someone else’s home

 

You should not meet anyone socially who is not a member of your household indoors in a private dwelling. You can go into another person’s home only for certain reasons, such as for essential work for the upkeep, maintenance or functioning of that home, to join your extended household, or to provide care and assistance to 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 responsibility or where they are a parent or carer of a child under one. ​​

Read Coronavirus (COVID-19): advice for unpaid carers.

Meeting others outdoors and indoors in a public place

 

The maximum number of people who can meet socially outdoors in a private garden or public space is 4, which can be from up to 2 separate households.

Two metre 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 in a gathering. Children under 12 do not need to maintain physical distance from others.

Young people age 12 to 17 can meet up in groups of up to 4 at a time outdoors and are not subject to the 2 household limit. Physical distancing is required.

Where an individual household includes more than 4 people, they can meet outside as a household even if the total number of people exceeds 4. In hospitality settings, this is contingent on the premises being able to accommodate the group size within the available facilities.

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 (unless in a public venue that is operating 1 metre distancing with additional measures in place to avoid transmission)
  • maintain hand and cough hygiene
  • avoid touching hard surfaces with your hands
  • wash your hands when (if circumstances allow) you arrive, when you leave, when you get home and especially before eating or after touching surfaces
  • not share food or utensils

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

 

If you are meeting people from another household in their garden, you should only go into their house if necessary 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 outside 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 that joins two households.

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

  • live by yourself
  • are a single parent where all others in your household are under 18 years old
  • 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.

Read more:

Hospitality

 

Restaurants, cafés, pubs and bars are closed. Guidance for operators is at: sector guidance for tourism and hospitality

Takeaways (and other food and drink businesses) can provide food or drink only for consumption off premises, but they must either deliver to customers or, where the customer collects, operate on a no-entry basis for either pre-order or walk-up service.

Hotels and other accommodation providers can still serve food and non-alcoholic drinks to qualifying guests – such as people travelling for work – up to 22:00. Room service, including alcohol, is allowed as normal.

It is against the law to consume alcohol in an outdoors public place in any Level 4 area.

Accommodation

 

All holiday accommodation is closed to tourism and must cease to carry on that business. Accommodation may be provided for a range of essential purposes:

  • anyone who is unable to return to their main residence
  • anyone who uses that accommodation as their main residence
  • anyone who is living in that accommodation for work purposes
  • anyone who needs accommodation while moving home
  • anyone who requires accommodation to attend a funeral
  • anyone who requires accommodation to attend a marriage ceremony or civil partnership registration
  • anyone who requires accommodation to participate in or facilitate shared parenting arrangements
  • anyone required to quarantine following arrival in Scotland from outwith the Common Travel Area
  • for the provision of accommodation to the homeless or support services for the homeless
  • for the hosting of blood donation sessions
  • for any purpose requested by the Scottish Ministers, a local authority or a health board

Accommodation for workers should only be for work that cannot be undertaken from home and where it is not practicable for the workers to commute or work from home. Guidance has been developed for certain sectors of the economy, such as forestry, construction and telephone engineers who rely on shared, self-catering accommodation for work, please refer to: Workers accommodation guidance. Additional, specific guidance has been published for employers in agricultural and horticultural sectors

In line with Competition and Markets Authority guidance, a full refund should be offered to customers who booked holiday homes, but could not stay in them due to lockdown restrictions. The regulation of consumer protection is the responsibility of the UK Government at Westminster. The Competition and Markets Authority has issued guidance to businesses and consumers about refunds.​​​​​​

Travel and transport

 

You must stay in the Level 4 area except where you have a reasonable excuse to travel. See further guidance on travel and transport and view maps of local authority area boundaries.

Shopping

 

You should use online shopping or shops and other services in your local area wherever you can. 

The list of retailers permitted to open can be found in the question and answer section of the retail sector guidance under the sub-heading ‘the shopping experience’. Retailers should follow and implement the Scottish Government’s rules and guidance to ensure the safety of customers and staff.

Adults, unless accompanying a vulnerable person or a child or children under 18, should shop alone where possible.

Read more:

You can also shop online for any item to be delivered or to be picked up by appointment at a click-and-collect service.

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 from other people
  • you must follow direction signs, customer flow systems and shop capacities as indicated by the retailer
  • adults, unless accompanying a vulnerable person or a child/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 remain in place for Level 4 areas. 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.

Close contact services

 

Premise-based hairdressers and barbers are permitted to open on an appointment only basis.

All other close contact services and mobile close contact service providers must not operate. Read more: Guidance for close contact services

Close contact services that remain closed include:

  • 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.

Going to work/working from home

 

People should work from home wherever that is practicable. By law, employers must take all reasonable measures to minimise the risk of the incidence and spread of coronavirus. Supporting employees to work from home where possible is an important part of that.

Those activities that can be done effectively through home working should be adopted. Offices and call-centres that 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.

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

 

The Coronavirus regulations require that work carried out in someone else’s home for the maintenance, upkeep or functioning of the home must only be carried out where it is essential. People must not go into other people’s houses for that type of work where it is not essential. This applies to anyone carrying out work, voluntary or charitable services. Businesses who employ people to carry out this work should consider if it is essential before asking their employees to enter someone else’s home.

Read further information and guidance on working in other people’s homes.

Examples of essential work may include:

  • to carry out utility (including electricity, gas, water, telephone, broadband) safety checks, repairs, maintenance and installations (where those cannot be delayed)
  • to carry out repairs and maintenance that would otherwise threaten the household’s health and safety
  • to deliver, install or repair key household furniture and appliances such as washing machines, fridges and cookers
  • to support a home move, for example furniture removal
  • a domestic cleaner providing services in support of a clean and safe living environment for people in vulnerable circumstance or living with a disability and as a result of that vulnerable circumstance or disability are unable to clean their own home
  • to deliver goods or shopping, where essential in supporting a vulnerable person

Non-essential work may include cosmetic painting/ decorating, or kitchen/ bathroom/glazing/carpeting/electrical replacements where not required to maintain the health and safety of the household

Safety when working in someone else’s home

When carrying out essential work in someone’s house, workers should ensure all measures are taken to minimise the risk of transmission. This will include ensuring workers stay 2 metres apart from the people who live in the house, wearing face coverings, and maintaining good hand hygiene. Please read the further information and guidance on working in other people’s homes

Stadia and events

 

Stadia must be closed to spectators.

No live events are permitted.

Sports and exercise

 

You are permitted to meet others in small numbers outdoors for informal exercise or sport, provided you follow the socialising rules on meeting other households outdoors (see section above).

Under 12s

Organised outdoor contact sport, non-contact sport, exercise, personal training, coaching and group activities are permitted. Sports organisers must ensure they operate in line with the relevant guidance:

12 to 17 year olds

Organised outdoor sport, exercise, personal training, coaching and group activities are permitted. It is advised that these activities take place in groups of up to 15 people (this number includes up to 2 adult coaches or instructors), providing appropriate guidance is followed.  

Sports organisations should refer to guidance agreed between their Scottish Governing Body of Sport and sportscotland and ensure they operate in line with the guidance.

Adults

Organised outdoor non-contact sports, exercise, personal training and coaching are permitted. It is advised that these activities take place in groups of up to 15 people (including coaches and instructors), providing appropriate guidance is followed.

Outdoor contact sports are not permitted, except for professional sport. 

Sports organisations should refer to guidance agreed between their Scottish Governing Body of Sport and sportscotland and ensure they operate in line with the guidance.

Outdoor gyms are permitted to open. 

Indoor sports facilities are required to close, except where these are used for professional sport.

You can meet in groups of up to 4 adults from 2 households for informal exercise outdoors anywhere in Scotland which does not involve an overnight stay outwith the area in which the person lives. Young people aged 12 to 17 can meet up in groups of up to 4 at a time outdoors and are not subject to the 2 household limit. Under 12s do not count towards the number of people meeting or households.

Leisure and entertainment

 

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

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

Driving lessons

 

Driving lessons and tests (including theory tests) for the general public cannot take place. The only exception is where driving lessons are given by a member of your household.

There is also a special exemption for the police, fire service and some bus operators to carry out lessons and tests for their staff. This applies only where they have the authority from the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA).

Moving house, letting property, and second homes

 

Whilst it is currently permitted to conduct activities in connection with moving home or the essential maintenance, purchase, sale, letting or rental of a residential property that you own or are responsible for you are strongly advised to postpone those while an area is in Level 4, if possible.

You should search for property online and carry out viewings virtually in the first instance and only physically view a property which you or the person on whose behalf you are acting are very likely to want to move into.

Travel for the purposes of undertaking essential work on a property other than your main residence must not be used as a pretext for a holiday. You should not stay longer than for the length of time required to undertake the necessary work.

Residential tenancies – evictions

In Level 3 or 4 areas enforcement of residential eviction orders, cannot take place unless the eviction is in relation to nuisance, annoyance, harassment, certain convictions or anti-social or criminal behaviour.

Public buildings

 

Public buildings will be closed, except for some libraries which may be open to provide free computer and internet access, where an appointment has been booked. Library click and collect services may also be available. You should check with your local library service in the first instance.

Read more: guidance for public libraries

Community centres can continue to operate for the delivery of essential services only, such as emergency shelter, medical services or meals for the homeless.

Calculations for physical distancing guidelines apply in all public buildings except for those delivering an essential public service.

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

Visitor attractions

 

All indoor visitor attractions such as museums, galleries, heritage attractions, indoor areas of zoos and aquariums are closed.

Outdoor visitor attractions, such as parks, gardens and the outdoor areas of zoos may remain open, to enable exercise and recreation to be undertaken with appropriate physical distancing in place, but should only be visited in line with travel restrictions.

Visitor attractions’ retail and indoor hospitality facilities will be closed, other that food to go/takeaways operating doorway/hatch collection only.

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.

Specific sector guidance can be found at:

Worship

 

Places of worship are required to take measures to protect individuals, worshippers, staff members and volunteers from infection by COVID-19. 

Those responsible for places of worship must take measures to ensure, as far as reasonably practicable, that people are able to maintain a distance of 2 metres at all times from others who are not part of their household, and should limit the numbers attending services accordingly, in line with guidelines on physical distancing capacity.

Ceremonies to celebrate life events such as bar mitzvahs, baptisms, First Communions and christenings can take place as part of a scheduled act of worship and should limit the numbers attending services accordingly, in line with guidelines on physical distancing capacity. Separate guidance applies to funerals and marriage ceremonies (see Life Events guidance).

Places of worship are asked 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.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance for the safe use of places of worship

Weddings and funerals

 

Wedding ceremonies and civil partnership registrations can take place with a maximum capacity of 20 people (including the couple, and the witnesses), provided the venue’s capacity allows for 2 metre physical distancing.

Funerals can take place with a maximum capacity of 20, provided the venue’s capacity allows for 2 metre physical distancing.

Wedding or civil partnership receptions and post funeral gatherings such as wakes cannot take place.

You must maintain a safe distance of 2 metres between people not in your household or extended household.

Face coverings must be worn indoors. Where physical distancing or a partition is in place, there is an exception for the couple getting married or entering a civil partnership and the person leading the ceremony during a wedding ceremony or civil partnership. Face coverings do not need to be worn by the person leading a funeral service or by the person providing the eulogy.

Schools

 

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

This means that from 12-20 April:

  • a 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

Read more:

Colleges and universities

 

From 26 April, both colleges and universities are operating ‘Restricted Blended Learning’ in Levels 4 and 3. Further information on what this will involve can be found at guidance for higher and further education institutions and student accommodation providers.

Children's organised activities

 

Sports and exercise

Under 12s

Organised outdoor contact sport, non-contact sport, exercise, personal training, coaching and group activities are permitted. Sports organisers must ensure they operate in line with the relevant guidance:

12 to 17 year olds

Organised outdoor sport, exercise, personal training, coaching and group activities are permitted. It is advised that these activities take place in groups of up to 15 people (this number includes up to 2 adult coaches or instructors), providing appropriate guidance is followed.  

Sports organisations should refer to guidance agreed between their Scottish Governing Body of Sport and sportscotland and ensure they operate in line with the guidance.

Unregulated children’s activities

Unregulated activities for parents and children under 5 such as baby and toddler groups that take place outdoors are permitted. It is advised that these activities are limited to a maximum of 15 adults and unlimited under 5s.

Read more: guidance on organised activities for children

See: children and young people gathering restrictions and activities (PDF)

Public services

 

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

Any advice or rules on staying safe do not prevent anyone from acting to keep themselves safe from domestic abuse, including leaving home (see further guidance on domestic abuse support). If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic abuse, call Scotland’s Domestic Abuse Helpline on 0800 027 1234 or go to www.safer.scot.

Visiting  hospitals

 

There are restrictions on visiting people in hospital.

You can still visit someone in hospital or accompany someone to appointments if you’re:

  • a birth partner supporting a woman during hospital visits
  • visiting someone receiving end-of-life care
  • supporting someone with a mental health issue, or dementia, or a learning disability or autism, where not being present would cause the patient to be distressed
  • accompanying a child

You may be able to be visit for other reasons if you and hospital staff feel it is essential.

You should make any arrangements by contacting clinical staff before visiting.

Visiting care homes

 

Care home residents are recommended to:

  • receive a minimum of two indoor visits a week, one person at a time
  • essential visits should be supported at all times.
  • garden or window visits are also allowed. 

Visits additional to the above are at the discretion of individual care homes, based on local circumstances and Open with Care principles.

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

For more information:

Shielding

 

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 for people

 

Support services

Support groups and one-to-one support should be delivered remotely where possible, but support may be delivered in-person if remote delivery is not possible and they are essential for people’s wellbeing. Examples of support services include peer support groups, vulnerable persons’ or families’ support groups, talking therapy groups, 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.

An essential support service is one where the participant’s health (including their mental health) and wellbeing would be significantly impacted by non-attendance. If services must take place in-person, relevant guidance must be followed.

Child contact centre providers are advised to provide only essential contact services in person. During this time providers should move their contact services online where possible, or by telephone.

Read more: child contact services guidance

Building based day services and residential respite/ short break services

Services can operate in line with relevant guidance, where they are essential for people’s wellbeing – i.e. where participants’ health (including their mental health) and wellbeing would be significantly impacted by non-attendance.

For those who are unable to access support immediately, alternative provision must be considered and discussed. For example, grants through the voluntary sector Short Breaks Fund or, for those eligible for social care support, flexible use of their package to meet agreed outcomes, moving to a different Self-directed Support Option.

Supporting others

Remember that some people may find physical distancing rules harder to follow than others, for example those with sight loss, autism, learning disabilities and dementia or other communication or mobility needs.

You can help by being considerate and by:

  • keeping your distance – for example, if you see someone with a guide dog, long cane or with mobility difficulties, you can help them by making sure you keep 2 metres away 
  • being friendly and offering help – for example, by letting someone with sight loss know where a shopping queue starts or if there is a safer place to cross a road

Contact

Email: Covid19OutbreakManagement@gov.scot

First published: 11 May 2021 Last updated: 11 May 2021 -