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Article published 15/12/2020

New strategic approach to managing COVID-19

UPDATED: 4 January

Scotland's Strategic Framework - a five-level framework which will allow for a refreshed strategic approach to suppressing Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreaks across Scotland - has been published. The tourism and hospitality guidance has been updated to reflect this. 

This article includes:

Protection levels

Local Authority levels

Travel restrictions

Grants for businesses

Further information

Protection levels

The framework has five protection levels. ‘Level 0’ is effectively the same level of protection as the Route Map Phase 3 measures Scotland reached in August last year and will act as a baseline, with four levels above that designed to apply increasing protection from the virus in areas according to prevalence, the risk to communities and the need to protect the NHS. Levels will be reviewed on a regular basis.

  • Level zero – closest to normality which the government can get to without a vaccine or effective treatment. Maximum of eight people from three households permitted to meet indoors and most businesses open. 
  • Level one – a maximum of six people from two households permitted to meet indoors, with most businesses permitted to operate close to normality. (Socialising rules will be kept under review and may at times differ). What does level one mean for my business?
  • Level two – restrictions similar to those outside the central belt in place, with no gatherings between households permitted indoors and limitations on hospitality. What does level two mean for my business?
  • Level three - similar to current central belt measures, with strict restrictions on hospitality business and indoor gatherings. However, restaurants will be permitted to open at least partially. What does level three mean for my business?
  • Level four – closer to a full lockdown, with the closure of non-essential shops. This will be used at times when the virus is running out of control and the NHS is at risk of being overwhelmed. However, six people from two households will still be permitted to meet outdoors, manufacturing and construction will be able to continue, and there will be no limit on outdoor exercise. Consideration is currently being given as to whether there is a need to strengthen these level four restrictions further. What does level four mean for my business?

Read more information on COVID-19 protection levels, what they mean, why they are being introduced and what the different levels are on the Scottish Government website.

View a summary guidance table for all COVID-19 protection levels.

It was agreed that the new protection levels will increase the opportunity for hospitality businesses to operate during different levels of COVID-19 restrictions. Updated tourism and hospitality business guidance has been published - please ensure you’re aware of any changes. 

Local Authority levels

From Tuesday 5 January, mainland Scotland will move from level 4 to a temporary lockdown, with new guidance to stay at home except for essential purposes. Some islands will remain at level 3.

  • Level three – Orkney, Shetland, Western Isles and Argyll & Bute islands
  • Level four – Scottish Borders, Dumfries & Galloway, Highlands, Moray, Fife, Perth & Kinross, Dundee, Angus, Edinburgh City, Glasgow City, Clackmannanshire, Renfrewshire, East Renfrewshire, Inverclyde, East and West Dunbartonshire, Argyll & Bute mainland, North and South Lanarkshire, North, East and South Ayrshire, Stirling, Falkirk, West Lothian, East Lothian, Midlothian, Aberdeenshire and Aberdeen City. 

You can check the COVID-19 restrictions by protection level in areas of Scotland via the Postcode checker

Read the outcome of the latest review from 4 January of the allocation of levels to local authorities, alongside evidence and analysis informing these decisions.

These restrictions are now in place (from 00.01 on Boxing Day) for a minimum period of three weeks, with a review taking place after two weeks.

Travel restrictions

To minimise the risk of spreading the virus, we should all stay at home as much as possible and avoid unnecessary travel. By law, in a level 4 area, you can only leave your home (or garden) for an essential purpose.

Guidance on travel restrictions became law from Friday 20 November. 

Essential purposes covers things like work – if you cannot work from home – education, local outdoor exercise, healthcare or caring responsibilities, and essential shopping where that is not possible locally.

Similarly people – wherever they live – should not travel between Scotland and areas in the rest of the UK unless it is essential.

Read the Scottish Government advice and guidance on how to travel safely. And you can view quarantine rules and information on the process for people entering the UK.

Grants for businesses

Ongoing financial support is set out in the Strategic Framework. The Scottish Government will work with local authorities to ensure grants are made available quickly and efficiently.

Financial support will provide:

  • A grant of £2,000 or £3,000 (depending on rateable value) for businesses required to close by law, payable every four weeks for the duration protective measures are in place.
  • A hardship grant of £1,400 or £2,100 (depending on rateable value) for businesses that remain open but are specifically required to modify their operations by protective measures, payable every four weeks for the duration measures are in place.
  • These grants will be provided regardless of level, to eligible businesses, and paid in fortnightly instalments (subject to discussions with local authorities).

Read more on the Strategic Framework Business Fund.

On top of this, the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) will now run until the end of March with employees receiving 80% of their current salary for hours not worked.