Publication - Advice and guidance

Coronavirus (COVID-19): what you can and cannot do

Includes information on seeing friends and family, travel, and guidance for students on visits home.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): what you can and cannot do


COVID protection levels: a new system of local protection levels will be introduced from 2 November. Check the protection level for your area and find out what you can and cannot do under each level.

This guidance applies across Scotland except in the central belt where additional measures are in place until 06:00 on Monday 2 November.

Student accommodation – guidance on visits home

The purpose of this guidance is to explain how the current restrictions on social gatherings apply to students living away from home. It applies from Monday 28 September 2020 and should be read alongside wider Scottish Government guidance as well as any local restrictions in place in your area.

We advise that, if you are able to, you should remain in your student accommodation and not visit family at home. This is to minimise the risk of spreading the virus to your family members. You should contact your college, university or student accommodation provider to discuss the support available to you. 

We ask that you consider any return home carefully before making a decision but we acknowledge that there will be circumstances where it may not be possible for you  to remain in student accommodation.

We recognise that for some students (such as estranged or care-experienced students), student accommodation may be your main home. You should contact your college, university or student accommodation provider to discuss the support available to you.

International students who are considering a visit home, with the intention of returning to Scotland afterwards, must follow the guidance on international travel and quarantine as appropriate when arriving back in Scotland. They should also note any  quarantine rules which may apply in their home country,

You should follow our FACTS guidance at all times.

This guidance will be kept under review.

Returning home for a visit or short stay

You must follow the rules on indoor social gatherings.  

You can meet one other household outdoors or in a hospitality setting up to a limit of six people and should not meet inside another household.

As you have formed a new household within your student accommodation, this means that you cannot stay overnight at another household.

You should keep up to date with Scottish Government guidance on what you can and cannot do, which includes guidance on social gatherings and the very limited exceptions which apply.

In some circumstances, people who live in different places can form an extended household, such as people who live alone or couples who do not live together. It is necessary for all adults living in both households to agree to form an extended household with each other. Students should read the guidance on extended households to consider if this might apply in their circumstances.

It is an offence not to comply with the restrictions on gatherings. However, it is a defence to show that there was a reasonable excuse in the circumstances. A reasonable excuse might include a visit home for a family emergency, such as a bereavement, or for wellbeing reasons.

We want students to be able to return safely to family homes at Christmas where they wish to do so. We are considering the best approach for the festive break but, given no one can predict the future path of the pandemic, we will update the guidance in due course.

Returning home whilst self-isolating

You should stay within your student accommodation and follow the guidance on self-isolating.

If you require support while you are self-isolating, please contact your college, university or student accommodation provider in the first instance to discuss the support in place for you. It is understandably difficult self-isolating within a student accommodation setting, but your college, university or student accommodation provider is there to help. Further information on support available can be found at the Student Information Scotland website.

If you need to return home because you require the support and care of a friend, family member or other supportive person to allow you to comply with the requirement to self-isolate, it is important you follow the guidance on self-isolating to ensure any return home can be done so as safely as possible. Reasons for needing support may include, but are not limited to, physical, financial or mental health support.

If you are being collected from your accommodation by a parent, family member, friend or other supportive person, they should contact your accommodation provider for guidance on how to do so safely.

The household you are returning to should also self-isolate. You should also not use public transport to travel home and follow travel guidance. We appreciate that students from island communities may only be able to complete part of their journey home by public transport. You should contact your college or university in the first instance in order to discuss your circumstances and the options available to you.

When returning to accommodation, consider how best to travel there and whether any precautions may be needed when returning to your previous household. You should also contact your accommodation provider to let them know you are returning.

Returning home on a permanent basis

The current restrictions on indoor social gatherings do not prevent the formation of new households where you are moving to a place which will become your only or main residence and you intend to reside there on a long-term basis. When first moving into a new household (in this scenario, that means moving home), if this takes place during a time you have been asked to self-isolate, the advice on self-isolation noted above will apply. 

If you are considering such a return home on a permanent basis, you should consider how you may benefit from in person learning where your college or university are offering this. You should consult your institution to find out more about the support available and implications of your decision.

The Coronavirus (Scotland) (No. 2) Act 2020 introduced notice to leave periods for students residing in halls of residence and Purpose Built Student Accommodation (PBSA). You may wish to consider the guidance on the Coronavirus (Scotland) (No. 2) Act 2020, and further information is available from your accommodation provider.

Further information for students residing in the private rented sector can be found on the Student Information Scotland website.

First published: 9 Oct 2020 Last updated: 21 Oct 2020 -