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Article published 21/12/2020

Restrictions tightened due to spread of new variant of COVID-19

Scotland will significantly tighten protections against Coronavirus (COVID-19) to prevent the spread of the new, highly contagious strain of the virus. Read the First Minister's statement

The planned easing of restrictions around Christmas will be limited to Christmas Day itself, and not the previous five day window that was planned.

The approach states:

  • legal household limits will still apply - a maximum of eight people from three households - however advice is to minimise the numbers. Where possible, people should celebrate the festive period at home in their own household and meet with others outdoors
  • other than for specific exemptions, travel between Scotland and the rest of the UK will not be legal
  • travel within Scotland will be allowed on Christmas Day
  • from Boxing Day, all of Scotland will have level four restrictions applied, including the closure of non-essential retail and hospitality. The only exceptions will be Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles, and the other island communities where restrictions have been reduced in recent weeks, who will be placed in level three.
  • from Boxing Day, in line with existing law, travel across local authority boundaries between areas in level three or four will not be legal other than for specific exempt purposes
  • Ultimately: a smaller Christmas is a safer Christmas.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance for festive period. Hospitality businesses will have to trade under the levels restrictions in place in their area over the festive period.

Hogmanay and New Year: Christmas bubbles will not apply at Hogmanay and New Year. 

Here are some frequently asked questions and answers: