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Visit Scotland | Alba
Article published 19/07/2021

As from today the whole of Scotland has moved to level zero but mandatory use of face coverings is to remain in place for "some time".

If the necessary conditions on vaccination and harm reduction continue to be met, all major remaining COVID-19 restrictions will be lifted on 9 August.

Scottish Government is in the process of updating the tourism and hospitality guidance to ensure that there is information related to recent announcements for businesses. In the meantime, there’s a lot to absorb and there are critical updates for the tourism and accommodation sector in this article. Read more on:

Changes to restrictions from 19 July

  • All of Scotland will move to level zero, with certain modifications.
  • Eight people from up to four households can meet indoors at home.
  • Ten people from up to four households can meet in a public indoor space – such as a pub or restaurant.
  • 15 people from up to 15 households can meet outdoors – whether in a private garden or public place.
  • From Monday 19 July, children under 12 will not count towards the total number of households.
  • Up to 200 people can attend weddings and funerals.
  • All soft play centres currently in level two areas can reopen from Monday, as they have been able to do in level one areas.
  • There will be no requirement for customers to pre-book a two-hour slot to go to a pub or restaurant.
  • Customers will still be required to provide contact details to assist Test and Protect and they will still be required to wear face coverings except when seated.
  • Limits on the size of events and stadia attendances will still remain, but these will increase outdoors to 2,000 seated and 1,000 standing, and indoors to 400. 

Face coverings remain mandatory

Face coverings will still be mandatory in Scotland. We are still required to wear them in public transport, shops, indoor visitor attractions and on arrival at restaurant, bars and cafes.  

It is important to remind our visitors from outwith Scotland that they are required to wear a face covering as rules on this matter vary between Scotland and the UK.


Modifications to level zero

  • All hospitality venues will be required to close at midnight instead of following local licensing rules.
  • For the next three weeks at least, there will be a limit on the size of outdoor group gatherings of 15 people from up to 15 households.
  • There will also be a requirement for one metre distancing between different groups of 15.
  • Working from home will continue to remain the default, with the gradual return to offices hopefully starting from Monday 9 August. 

Future intentions for close contacts and self-isolation

  • The blanket requirement for close contacts to self-isolate will be dropped, so long as close contacts are double vaccinated – with at least two weeks having passed since the second dose – and take a PCR test that comes back negative.
  • The education advisory group has been asked to advise on removing the self-isolation requirement for young people in education settings who are close contacts of positive cases. Further information on this will be made available before the start of the new term.
  • From Monday 19 July, self-isolation will no longer be required for people arriving from countries on the amber list, provided they are fully vaccinated through a UK vaccination programme and take a PCR test on the second day after arrival. 

Physical distancing

  • 19 July | all areas move down to level zero and physical distancing will reduce to one metre in all indoor public settings and outdoors. Additionally, informal social gatherings of up to 15 people from 15 households will be permitted outdoors without physical distancing. Gatherings of up to 10 people from four households will be permitted in all indoor public settings with one metre physical distancing. 
  • 9 August | conditional on over-40s being fully vaccinated and a review of the epidemic ahead of this date – all areas move beyond level zero (levels restrictions lifted) and physical distancing regulations are lifted. This is an indicative date at this stage, and final decisions will be taken in the reviews preceding 9 August. 

Who can share a bedroom in tourist accommodation?

From 19 July, with the move to level zero, different households are permitted to share a bedroom – although this will be dependent upon capacity and appropriate bed spaces within rooms. 

In shared bedrooms within indoor public settings it should be possible for different households (or extended households) to maintain a physical distance of one metre from each other and they are expected to do so. If it is not possible for this distance to be maintained then separate bedrooms are recommended.

In self-catered or other unregulated accommodation, in-house socialising rules apply, while in public spaces within regulated (staffed) tourist accommodation, the rules about socialising in an indoors public place apply. Please see indoor socialising rules specified for each level for public/private places

Socialising rules which apply in tourist accommodation

While you do not need to physically distance from family and friends in a private home or outdoors, your gathering should maintain at least one metre distance from all others. In indoor public settings a distance of one metre distance from all other households should be maintained. 

If a large room or dormitory room (e.g. within a hostel or other similar venue) is being occupied by members of a number of separate households (or extended households), whilst keeping within the 10/4 indoor socialising rule, then it should be possible for each separate household (or extended household) to maintain a physical distance of at least one metre from each other household (or extended household), and they are expected to do so, as a one metre physical distance is required from other households (or extended households) in all indoor public settings. 

Please note that this also extends to communal rooms such as kitchens, lounges and dining rooms as well as shared bedrooms.

The Coronavirus (COVID-19): tourism and hospitality sector guidance FAQ travel and accommodation section provides additional information.

Moving beyond level zero – what does it mean for your sector?

We'll move beyond level zero when we meet the ‘gateway condition’ – which is all over-40s having been vaccinated and assuming we are meeting the revised strategic aim of alleviating the harm of the virus (expected around 9 August, but subject to confirmation nearer the time).

When we move beyond level zero and therefore out of the levels framework, almost all COVID-19 restrictions will be removed for businesses and individuals. This will mean that all businesses can reopen and can operate without restrictions on physical distancing. For example, this will also mean that weddings can take place with dancing and singing and mingling as before the pandemic.

From the indicative date of 9 August, there will be no household / number caps and physical distancing requirements will also be removed. This will mean that tourist accommodation will be able to operate on a more ‘business as normal basis’ albeit with appropriate hygiene and ventilation measures.

Please note that these dates are indicative and are dependent on the necessary conditions on vaccination and harm reduction being met.    

We will however have to live with the virus for some time to come, so Scottish Government will be asking people to stick to a set of baseline measures to stop the virus resurging and to protect those who do not have protection from vaccination. The baseline measures which are expected to be retained beyond level zero include:

  • Good hand hygiene and surface cleaning. 
  • Continued promotion of good ventilation.
  • Requirement for face coverings in certain settings. At least for a period, we are likely to require the wearing of face coverings in certain settings – for example, shops and public transport.
  • Continued compliance with Test and Protect, including self-isolation when necessary.
  • Ongoing need for outbreak management capability, including active surveillance.
  • A phased return to the workplace from level zero onwards, while encouraging a greater degree of homeworking than pre-pandemic. This will not only assist with controlling transmission of the virus, but also promote wellbeing more generally. 

There are also likely to be targeted restrictions on overseas travel beyond level zero. However, restrictions will be kept in place only for as long as necessary to respond to the threat of importation. These restrictions are reviewed regularly and will be relaxed when it is safe to do so.

Scottish Government colleagues will work with business organisations and sector teams to ensure effective guidance is in place and further detail provided on baseline measures prior to our move beyond level zero. 

Further information

Read the full statement from the First Minister. Regulations will be updated on Thursday 15 July ahead of the changes coming into effect on Monday 19 July.