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Visit Scotland | Alba
Article published 13/04/2021

Today (13 April) the First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, announced travel restrictions across Scotland are to end from 16 April. This will be welcomed as a confidence builder for the official reopening of hospitality from 26 April.

What is the plan for easing restrictions?

Travel within Scotland for outdoor socialising, recreation and exercise will be allowed from Friday 16 April. People must continue to stay local for other purposes such as non-essential shopping, and public transport capacity will continue to be limited.  

From 16 April you can:

  • Meet in groups of up to six adults from six households socially outdoors, for recreation or exercise (under 12s do not count towards the number of people meeting or households). Socialising in homes is still not permitted.
  • Travel anywhere in Scotland to meet others socially outdoors, for recreation or exercise - but you must not stay away from your local council area (or for Highland or Argyll and Bute, the level three or level four part of those areas that you live in) overnight. 

Should data permit, the whole of Scotland, including all island communities, will then be in level three from Monday 26 April. This will mean:

  • Non-essential travel between Scotland, England and Wales will be permitted, with the Scottish Government awaiting confirmation from Northern Ireland and parts of the Common Travel Area to finalise plans for this date
  • Tourist accommodation in Scotland can reopen subject to socialising rules
  • Limits on attendance at life events, including weddings, civil partnerships, funerals and receptions for those will increase to 50, with alcohol permitted
  • Pubs, cafes and restaurants will reopen outdoors for groups of up to six people from up to six households with alcohol until 10pm, and indoors for groups of up to six people from up to two households without alcohol until 8pm
  • Drive-in events will have the opportunity to resume, and from 17 May some outdoor and indoor events will be able to take place (all conditional on supportive data)

Read the First Minister's full statement of 13 April.

A revised local protection levels table, which includes a timetable for the easing of restrictions for the tourism and events industry, has been made available on the Scottish Government website.

Helping visitors enjoy Scotland responsibly

We're working collaboratively through the Visitor Management Strategy Steering Group, a range of national and local partners, to develop a Scotland-wide strategic and coordinated approach to tackle some of the issues around visitor management and educate and encourage visitors to enjoy our countryside responsibly.

To maintain our stunning landscapes and countryside, we must ensure we protect our natural resources by being responsible and respectful when visiting as restrictions ease. We ask everyone to care for Scotland by loving our natural landscape and leaving no trace of their visit.

We want to work with businesses, destinations and communities to ensure that visitors and locals can have a fantastic experience when it’s safe to do so and we need your help to share this message.

The more we talk about it; the more people will hear about it. Find out more about how you can get involved in our responsible visitor management campaign.

Scotland, yours to enjoy. Responsibly.


In advance of reopening, the Scottish Government is currently updating guidance and it's hoped this will be finalised and available to the sectors soon to allow time for operators to plan for any changes.

Many of the standard aspects of the current guidance will remain the same, such as physical distancing, face coverings, at seat service in hospitality and enhanced hygiene protocols. Guidance will be communicated with the industry as soon as we get further information.

Current restrictions

Current restrictions remain in place for the tourism and events industry until 26 April. All holiday accommodation remains closed to tourism, which means hotels, B&Bs and self-catering can remain open for essential customers only. Businesses or individuals that fail to comply are committing an offence. 

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