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Scotland’s new lockdown rules and restrictions explained

Kate Ng
·4 min read
<p>A member of staff looks out from a serving hatch at the Tinderbox coffee shop in Glasgow, as stricter lockdown measures have came into force for mainland Scotland</p> (PA)

A member of staff looks out from a serving hatch at the Tinderbox coffee shop in Glasgow, as stricter lockdown measures have came into force for mainland Scotland


Mainland Scotland and most of its islands have been under the strictest tier of coronavirus lockdown rules since Boxing Day, and the first minister announced tighter restrictions this week.

Nicola Sturgeon told Scottish parliament on Wednesday that the coronavirus situation “remains very precarious and extremely serious” as 1,829 people were now being treated for the disease in hospital. Of those, 142 patients are in intensive care.

Since 4 January, the government introduced a legal requirement for people to stay at home unless they have a “reasonable excuse” to leave, such as for work that cannot be done from home, education, essential shopping or healthcare.

On Thursday, Scotland recorded 64 more deaths of coronavirus patients, and a further 1,707 new infections in the past 24 hours. Ms Sturgeon said the daily test positivity rate has gone down to 8.3 per cent from 10.2 per cent on Wednesday, when 1,949 positive cases were recorded.

What are the new restrictions?

As of Saturday 16 January, from one minute past midnight, it will be illegal to drink in any outdoor public places in Level 4 areas. If you buy takeaway alcohol, you must go home to consume it.

The government also announced tightening of rules around click-and-collect services, in order to minimise close contact between people.

Only retailers selling essentials, such as clothing, baby equipment and books, will be able to offer collection services.

People will be barred from entering hospitality businesses for takeaway services, which means all sales of food and drink must take place outside the premises.

What are the existing rules?

Under current guidelines, Scots can only leave their homes for a specific number of purposes, and are urged to avoid unnecessary travel to avoid the risk of spreading Covid-19.

Outdoor exercise is permitted, including walking, cycling, golf or running.

You are allowed to meet one other person from another household by yourself for sport or exercise, but any meetings must be held outdoors and in indoor public spaces. This means only a maximum of two people from different households, aged 12 and over, can meet outdoors for a permitted purpose.

However, any activities must start and finish in the same place, which can be up to five miles from the boundary of your local authority area.

Aside from exercise, you can also meet one other person from another household outdoors and in indoor public spaces for work, to join your extended household, or to provide care and support for a vulnerable person.

Places of worship are closed, and are only allowed to open for the purpose of leading an act of worship to be broadcast or streamed online, or to conduct a marriage, civil partnership ceremony, or funeral.

Are schools, colleges and universities open?

Schools are only open to in-person learning for children of key workers and vulnerable children from 5 January to 29 January.

Schools are conducting remote learning for all other children and young people from 11 January to 29 January.

Earlier this week, universities and colleges in Scotland were told to move courses online until at least the end of February.Ms Sturgeon said students should not travel back to their term-time accommodation during the latest coronavirus lockdown.

Will rules become even stricter?

If the new rules do not have enough impact, the deputy first minister has warned that further restrictions could be introduced in Scotland.

John Swinney said that there is more economic activity happening now compared to the first national lockdown in last March, and “obviously there are further restrictions that could be applied”.

Speaking to BBC Breakfast on Thursday, Mr Swinney said: “There are or course other things that we could do – we’re trying to avoid doing that because we’re trying to navigate our way through this difficult situation while supporting as much economic and social activity as is safe and supportable at any given time.

“Obviously there are further restrictions that could be applied – we don’t want to have to go there, so I would encourage people to follow the restrictions that are in place. If we do all those things then we can avoid more stringent restrictions.”

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