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Latest news | Rolling updates on the COVID-19 coronavirus advice

Latest news

Rolling updates on the COVID-19 coronavirus advice

This page gives a rolling update on COVID-19 coronavirus. It will be kept up to date as much as possible.

Coronavirus in Scotland

There are now confirmed cases of Coronavirus (COVID-19) across Scotland.

Health services are dealing with the outbreak, and we must play our own part to help prevent further spread by following the latest medical advice.

People have been advised to follow the public health advice for coronavirus, which is continuously updated and can be found on the NHS Inform website.

Crucially, people are asked to remember FACTS:

  • F - Face coverings should be worn in enclosed spaces.
  • A - Avoid crowded areas, both indoors and outdoors.
  • C - Clean your hands and hard surfaces regularly and thoroughly.
  • T - Two metre distancing from people outside of your household.
  • S - Self-isolate, and book a test immediately, if you have symptoms of COVID-19.

On March 17th 2020, the First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon MSP, provided a full update on the challenges ahead and measures being taken to address them as a result of coronavirus. You can read the full statement here on the Scottish Government website.

Additionally, the four nations’ Action Plan and tailored guidance for Scotland’s unique landscape were both published. These documents set out additional arrangements for Scotland, what we know so far, and what actions will be taken at each phase in response to the coronavirus.

Much of this planning has been based on reasonable worst case scenarios which will be refined as our understanding of the virus develops, but it is vital that we are well equipped to deal with all possibilities.

On May 21 2020, the First Minister published the Coronavirus (COVID-19): framework for decision making - Scotland's route map through and out of the crisis that gives an indication of the order in which we will carefully and gradually seek to change current restrictions.

May 29th 2020, lockdown began to ease with physical distancing and staying at home still essential to tackling the virus.

Health advice

If you’ve developed a new continuous cough and/or a fever/high temperature/loss or taste or smell in the last 7 days, stay at home for 7 days from the start of your symptoms even if you think your symptoms are mild.

Anyone over the age of 5 who has developed symptoms of coronavirus is now eligible for a test. These can be booked online: or by calling 0300 303 2713.

Using the new "Test and Protect" system, you will be asked to share your recent close contacts, and they will be confidentially contacted and asked to self-isolate for 14 days.

Do not go to your GP, pharmacy or hospital.

Only phone 111 if your symptoms:

  • are severe or you have shortness of breath
  • worsen during home isolation
  • have not improved after 7 days

If you have a medical emergency, phone 999 and tell them you have COVID-19 symptoms.

If you have symptoms and live with others:

  • You should stay at home for 7 days from the start of your symptoms
  • They should stay at home for 14 days from the start of your symptoms even if they don’t have symptoms themselves

If you live with other people and have symptoms, they'll need to stay at home for 14 days from the start of your symptoms even if they don’t have symptoms themselves.

If they develop symptoms within the 14 days, they need to stay at home for 7 days from the day their symptoms began. They should do this even if it takes them over the 14-day isolation period.

Everyone in Scotland is also being asked to download the NHS Scotland Test and Protect App, the confidential, contact tracing app to help protect each other and reduce the spread of COVID-19 across Scotland.

If you have a non-COVID19 related health concern, please contact your GP or 111. In an emergency, call 999.

Free information for people who do not have symptoms but are looking for general advice is available at or call the helpline on 0800 028 2816

Current restrictions: What can I do?

The Scottish Government is asking people to remain at home as much as possible and keep your distance from others in order to reduce the transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19).

Following the discovery of a new variant of coronavirus, all of mainland Scotland entered a national lockdown, with people being asked to stay at home on top of the current Level 4 restrictions. The only exceptions will be Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles, and the other island communities where restrictions remain Level 3

From midnight, January 5th, the lockdown measures are:

  • To minimise the risk of spreading the virus, you must stay at home as much as possible. By law, in a level 4 area, you can only leave your home (or garden) for an essential purpose.

  • Examples of reasonable excuses to go out:

    • for work or an activity associated with seeking employment, or to provide voluntary or charitable services, but only where that cannot be done from your home.
    • for education including, school, college, university or other essential purposes connected with a course of study.
    • for essential shopping, including essential shopping for a vulnerable person. You should use online shopping or shops and other services in your immediate area wherever you can.
    • to obtain or deposit money, where it is not possible to do so from home.
    • for healthcare, including COVID-19 testing and vaccination.
    • for childcare or support services for parents or expectant parents.
    • for essential services, including services of a charitable or voluntary nature such as food banks, alcohol or drug support services.
    • to access public services where it is not possible to do so, including from home:
      • services provided to victims (such as victims of crime),
      • social-care services,
      • accessing day care centres,
      • services provided by the Department for Work and Pensions,
      • services provided to victims (including victims of crime),
      • asylum and immigration services and interviews,
      • waste or recycling services,
    • to provide care, assistance, support to or respite for a vulnerable person
    • to provide or receive emergency assistance.
    • to participate in or facilitate shared parenting.
    • to visit a person in an extended household.
    • to meet a legal obligation including satisfying bail conditions, to participate in legal proceedings, to comply with a court mandate in terms of sentence imposed or to register a birth.
    • for attendance at court including a remote jury centre, an inquiry, a children’s hearing, tribunal proceedings or to resolve a dispute via Alternative Dispute Resolution.
    • for essential animal welfare reasons, such as exercising or feeding a horse or going to a vet.
    • local outdoor recreation, sport or exercise, walking, cycling, golf, or running that starts and finishes at the same place (which can be up to 5 miles from the boundary of your local authority area) as long as you abide by the rules on meeting other households
    • to attend a marriage ceremony or registration of a civil partnership.
    • to attend a funeral or for compassionate reasons which relate to the end of a person’s life. This includes gatherings related to the scattering or interring of ashes, a stone setting ceremony and other similar commemorative events.
    • if you are a minister of religion or worship leader, for the purposes of leading an act of worship (broadcast or online), conducting a marriage or civil partnership ceremony or a funeral.
    • to donate blood.
    • for activities in connection with moving home (including viewing a property), or for activities in connection with the maintenance, purchase, sale, letting, or rental of residential property that the person owns or is otherwise responsible for. Travelling for the purposes of undertaking essential work on a property other than your main residence should 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.
    • to avoid injury, illness or to escape a risk of harm.
    • for those involved in professional sports, for training, coaching or competing in an event.
    • to visit a person receiving treatment in a hospital, staying in a hospice or care home, or to accompany a person to a medical appointment.
    • to register or vote in a Scottish or UK Parliament, Local Government or overseas election or by-election, including on behalf of someone else by proxy
    • to visit a person detained in prison, young offenders institute, remand centre, secure accommodation or other place of detention.
  • This is on top of the current restrictions on hospitality, accommodation, social gatherings, travel and transport, shopping, visitor attractions, etc that already applied in level 4 areas from Boxing Day 2020.

From June 22nd, face coverings are mandatory on all forms of public transport, taxis and private hire cars. Face coverings are also now mandatory in shops. Even when you go out normally, the Scottish Government has advised you wear a face covering in enclosed areas.

As of August 31st, face coverings should be worn in secondary school areas where physical distancing is difficult, like corridors. Children aged 5+ should also wear face coverings on school transport.

From September 14th, face coverings are mandatory in indoor hospitality venues for staff and customers when not eating and drinking (eg when entering a venue). Limited exemptions apply.

Governments are still advising those who are at increased risk of severe illness from coronavirus (COVID-19) to be particularly stringent in following social distancing measures.

This group includes those who are:

  • aged 70 or older (regardless of medical conditions)
  • under 70 with an underlying health condition listed below (ie anyone instructed to get a flu jab as an adult each year on medical grounds)
  • those who are pregnant


Gradually easing lockdown restrictions

On February 23rd 2021, the Scottish Government published its phased approach out of lockdown.

On March 16th, The First Minister set out a timetable for the re-opening of parts of society over the next two months. The timetable, case numbers, and vaccination programme pending, is as follows:

2 April

  • lifting the ‘Stay at Home’ requirement and replacing it with a ‘Stay Local’ message (retaining the current, local authority-based travel restrictions for at least a three-week period)

5 April

  • the resumption of outdoor contact sport for 12-17 year olds
  • return of college students within the top three priority groups identified by Colleges Scotland as most likely not to complete this academic year (estimated as 29% of learners)
  • reopening of non-essential ‘click and collect’ retail
  • extending the list of retail permitted to include:
    ° garden centres (indoor and outdoor)
    ° key cutting shops ° mobility equipment shops
    ° baby equipment shops
    ° electrical repair shops
    ° hairdressers and barbers (with shopfronts – not mobile services), by appointment only
    ° homeware shops
    ° vehicle showrooms (appointment only) and forecourts

The prohibition of in-home socialising will continue to be kept under review at this date.

12/19 April, depending on term times

  • all children back to school full-time
16 April
  • Local travel restrictions lifted for the purposes of socialising, recreation or exercise.
  • Six adults from up to six households will be able to meet up outdoors.
26 April
  • remaining shops can reopen and mobile close contact services can resume
  • gyms and swimming pools can reopen for individual exercise
  • tourist accommodation to reopen (self-catering accommodation to be restricted in line with rules on indoor gathering)
  • work in people’s homes to resume
  • non-essential childcare permitted
  • driving lessons and tests to resume
  • weddings and funerals for up to 50 (including wakes and receptions with no alcohol permitted)
  • libraries, museums, galleries re-open
  • outdoor hospitality to open till 10pm with alcohol permitted. Indoor hospitality permitted without alcohol and closing at 8pm
  • social mixing in indoor public places will be subject to current maximum of 4 people from up to 2 households

The prohibition of in-home socialising will continue to be kept under review at this date.

17 May

  • re-introducing in-home socialising for up to 4 people from up to 2 households
  • further re-opening of hospitality: bars, pubs, restaurants and cafes can stay open until 10.30pm indoors with alcohol permitted and 2 hour time-limited slots and until 10pm outdoors with alcohol permitted
  • adult outdoor contact sport and indoor group exercises can resume
  • cinemas, amusement arcades and bingo halls can re-open subject to capacity constraints
  • small scale indoor and outdoor events can resume subject to capacity constraints (to be confirmed following stakeholder engagement)
  • colleges and universities can return to a more blended model of learning
  • more in-person (face-to-face) support services can resume
  • non-professional performance arts can resume outdoors
Early June
  • up to 6 people from up to 3 households can socialise indoors in a home or public place
  • up to 8 people from 3 households can socialise outdoors.
  • 8 12-17 year olds can meet socially from 8 households outdoors
  • hospitality can remain open until 11pm
  • attendance at events can increase, subject to capacity constraints
  • indoor non-contact sport can take place.
  • increased numbers at life events and places of worship subject to stakeholder engagement
  • casinos, funfairs and soft play can open, subject to capacity constraints
From end of June
  • up to 6 people from up to 3 households can socialise indoors in a home or public place.
  • a phased return of some office staff
  • events increase numbers subject to capacity constraints
  • increased numbers at life events and places of worship subject to stakeholder engagement

Vaccination Programme

The aim is to get as many people as possible vaccinated as quickly as possible. This will help drive infections to the lowest level possible, particularly as a significantly more infectious and faster spreading strain has developed. NHS Scotland strongly recommends you get the vaccine when offered it.

Your local NHS Scotland will be in touch with you to arrange your vaccination appointment when you are eligible. It's important not to contact your GP practice for a vaccination before then.

The coronavirus vaccine is free to everyone in Scotland. Do not share your bank details with anyone offering you the vaccine for a fee

NHS Scotland will follow the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) advice and vaccinate those most at risk first, and those who work closest with them. People aged 50 or over are most at risk, and the risk increases with age.

Older adults living in care homes are at greater risk because large groups of especially vulnerable people are living together, in surroundings where the virus can spread quickly.

Frontline healthcare and social care workers are also at risk as they may be exposed to infection.

JCVI advises the order of priority for the coronavirus vaccination (jab, injection) is:

  1. residents in a care home for older adults and their carers
  2. all those 80 years of age and over and frontline health and social care workers
  3. all those 75 years of age and over
  4. all those 70 years of age and over and clinically extremely vulnerable individuals
  5. all those 65 years of age and over
  6. all individuals aged 16 years to 64 years with underlying health conditions which put them at higher risk of serious disease and mortality
  7. all those 60 years of age and over
  8. all those 55 years of age and over
  9. all those 50 years of age and over

It will be offered to the rest of the adult population thereafter.

You should not get the coronavirus vaccine if you've had a severe anaphylactic reaction to any of the ingredients in the vaccine or a previous dose of the vaccine.

For more information, visit the COVID vaccine page.


Some groups of people are considered to be at extremely high risk of severe illness with COVID-19. These people should strictly follow shielding measures, which remains separate to the general advice.

People falling into this group are those who may be at particular risk due to complex health problems such as:

  • have had solid organ transplants
  • have lung cancer and are receiving active chemotherapy or radiotherapy
  • have cancers of the blood or bone marrow, such as leukaemia, lymphoma or myeloma who are at any stage of treatment
  • have severe chest conditions such as cystic fibrosis or severe asthma and severe COPD
  • have rare diseases that significantly increase the risk of infections such as SCID and homozygous sickle cell
  • have severe diseases of body systems, such as severe kidney disease (dialysis)
  • are receiving immunotherapy or other continuing antibody treatments for cancer
  • are receiving other targeted cancer treatments which can affect the immune system, such as protein kinase inhibitors or PARP inhibitors
  • are receiving immunosuppression therapies that significantly increase risk of infection
  • are pregnant with significant heart disease (congenital or acquired)

Please check the guidance on shielding for more information.

Should you require additional support, including with food deliveries, you can check the Scottish Government's shielding and support contacts guidance, or contact your local council.

Key documents and contacts

Further guidance for health professionals can be found on the UK Government's coronavirus advice page.

Full information on the expansion of testing in Scotland is available on the Scottish Government website.

The Foreign Office has issue an Exceptional Travel Advisory Notice advising British nationals against all but essential travel as a result of COVID-19. All British nationals abroad have been advised to return home if they can.

The Scottish Government has also set up a helpline providing businesses across Scotland with advice and guidance on coronavirus (COVID-19). Callers should select option one to speak to the COVID-19 team. It is available on 0300 303 0660.

If you are concerned that your employer is breaking health and safety standards, report it here.

Further updates will be provided as the situation develops.

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