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Scottish Government updates 

Scotland’s Strategic Framework sets out the approach and principles that will guide us as we make decisions about transitioning out of the current lockdown arrangements. The latest update was published in March 2021.

The First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, confirmed further relaxation of restrictions across Scotland from Monday 17 May, with the exception of Moray Speyside which will likely remain in level three. Scottish Government has issued updated levels tables to reflect the latest announcement.

Take a look at the Scottish Government Coronavirus (COVID-19) protection levels: what you can do.

Protection level restrictions map of Scotland

Published April 2021

Map illustrating different protection levels across Scotland

Get Tourism Ready | tourism and hospitality sector guidance 

How you prepare to reopen and continue to provide a safe environment for your customers and staff once open, is crucially important. 

Many of the standard aspects of the tourism and hospitality guidance remain the same as last year, such as physical distancing, face coverings, at seat service in hospitality and enhanced hygiene protocols. There’s a lot to consider, take a look at the resources available to you. There’s a lot to consider, take a look at the resources available to you.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

The Scottish Government issued supplementary questions and answers to provide further clarification to tourism and hospitality businesses. This isn’t separate to government guidance but helps to further the understanding for industry to offer safe and legal operations within the legal requirements.

Questions topics range from opening / closing, travel and accommodation, face coverings in hospitality setting, physical distancing, queueing and Test and Protect.

Physical distancing and in-house socialising

Social distancing rules for hospitality premises have not changed since the sector was allowed to reopen in 2020. The sector is allowed to operate at one metre instead of two metre as an acknowledgment that they are unviable as businesses if two metres is maintained. 

Premises must now however signpost their ‘maximum capacity’ by displaying this alongside signage indicating that customers are ‘entering a one metre’. The capacity will likely be the same as identified in premises risk assessments last year. 

For example, this could be calculated in the following way: once all tables are laid out (maximum six to a table, not including children) in line with requirements, operators should calculate the number of customers which can be seated. This figure then becomes the Physical Distance Based Capacity (PDBC) and is displayed at entrances. It is likely, that when parties with more than one household are in a venue, that the capacity would be reduced but this does not require the PDBC be updated. 

Due to some misinformation circulating, it is important to note: 

  • There are no rules on table sizes. 
  • Social distancing rules for hospitality remain as they were last year.
  • Groups from different households can sit at the same table but should be socially distanced from those in other households.

Read the Scottish Government guidance on how to work out the maximum number of people who can physically distance within a public setting including businesses, places of worship and public events.

Given the transmission risks associated with different households sleeping in the same room, bedrooms should only be occupied by one household or extended household. This is the position in levels zero - three (closed in four). However, all restrictions will be kept under review and will not be in place for longer than necessary. The Coronavirus (COVID-19): tourism and hospitality sector guidance FAQ travel and accommodation section provides additional information.

No in-house socialising is permitted at level three, so different households must not share self-catering accommodation. On 17 May most of the country (except perhaps Moray Speyside) move to level two and the islands (excluding Skye, who will move to level two) will move to level one, allowing the re-introduction of in-home socialising for up to six people from up to three households - including tourist accommodation.

Collection of customer and visitor contact details

The Scottish Government has updated this guidance, to request the collection of the name and contact details for every visitor to premises, to create consistency across the range of settings where this is requested or mandated in Scotland, and at the same time ensure that relevant data is captured to assist the Test and Protect contact tracing service. Read the Test and Protect guidance.

Check In Scotland is a digital service to support businesses in collecting contact details for contact tracing purposes, and is available for tourism and leisure businesses.

The Check In Scotland service enables people to quickly and securely provide their contact details by scanning the official Test and Protect Check In Scotland QR code poster via their smartphone camera or by downloading the Check In Scotland app. They get the app for free via the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store.

It complements the separate Protect Scotland app, which alerts users if they have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. More than 6,400 venues have so far signed up to use this voluntary service for businesses in Scotland. 

Self-catering collection data | self-catering is in the non regulated sector for Test & Protect.  Collecting data in self-catering is not mandatory but it is encouraged. Operators are encouraged to collect from all members of a party, as this is good practice and leads to better and more useful data for Test & Protect purposes. There is no formal requirement for QR codes or anything more complex. The Check In Scotland system allows operators to download a poster that give details to their guests of how to check in.  

Collecting details of children in hospitality | Hospitality is the regulated sector for Test & Protect. This regulated sector covers, restaurants, cafes, bars, pubs and hotels where there is on-site service of food and drink. In these settings, the collecting of data from all members of a party, including children is encouraged. The legal position is that the establishment is legally bound to collect, and legally bound to provide, if asked, details from a lead member of each household attending the premises.

This applies regardless of the age of the lead member of the household. For example, if a family took an unaccompanied child from a different household, they would need to provide their details, and if the establishment did not require this of them, then the establishment is in breach. The breach is by the establishment – not the individual.

In the majority of cases where families are out and about, as a family, they would not have to provide details of minors, as could simply be one adult member of household.  But if for instance three 14 year olds wanted to go for coffee after school they should be asked for their details as they are three households. Test & Protect have indicated that where a child needs to be contacted, they would contact the parent guardian first.   

This means that depending on the circumstances, details of children may be required. The age 12 cut off, which is relevant with regard to whether or not a child counts toward household numbers is not relevant here. It is the being a separate household that matters, regardless of age. 

Travel restrictions

From 16 April we have all been able to travel freely throughout Scotland (with no overnight stays). And from 26 April the remaining travel restrictions were lifted for travel anywhere in Scotland, and for travel between Scotland, England and Wales.

The Scottish Government also removed restrictions on travel to and from Northern Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man - though people should check the rules on entry to each of those territories before they travel.

A new traffic light system will be introduced for international travel - with a consistent approach across the four nations.

Read the Scottish Government guidance on travel and transport.

Read the international travel and quarantine information on the Scottish Government website.

Pre-departure coronavirus testing

To reduce the risk of coronavirus being brought into island communities by people who are unaware they are infectious, the Scottish Government is encouraging anyone planning to travel to a Scottish island to test before they do so. 

People can order rapid lateral flow tests for delivery to their home anywhere in the UK and they should arrive within 24 - 48 hours. The Scottish Government recommends that people test three days before they plan to travel and then again on the day of departure.  If they test positive, this will allow the person to self-isolate before they begin their journey.   

Please note that if a test result is negative, this is not a guarantee that they do not have coronavirus.  People must continue to follow national and local restrictions, including FACTS guidance.  If they develop coronavirus symptoms they must self-isolate and book a PCR test.

This is a voluntary scheme and visitors will not need evidence of a negative test to travel to a Scottish island.  However, the Scottish Government would encourage that people do participate in order to reduce the risk that they inadvertently carry coronavirus into one of our island communities.   

Pre-departure testing covers travel to all Scottish islands. Read more information.

Face coverings guidance

Updated guidance on face coverings and face masks has been published. It explains where you need to wear a face covering and exemptions from wearing one.

The guidance includes information on face coverings in the workplace and additional information for businesses or operators carrying out close contact work.

Guest illness

In the event that a guest develops symptoms whilst staying away from home, they should immediately book a test through NHS Inform or, if they can’t get online, by phoning 0800 028 2816.

In accordance with Test and Protect, people with symptoms are required to self-isolate for at least 10 days, and everyone in their household should isolate for 14 days. If the test is negative, everyone can end isolation. If the test is positive, everyone should continue to isolate, and the NHS Test and Protect team will be in touch to start contact tracing. Those contacted through the Test and Protect programme will be required to self-isolate for at least 14 days. 

If guests who are isolating can travel home safely to isolate, avoiding the use of public transport, they should do this. 

In the event that this is not possible, the guest should discuss this with the NHS Test and Protect team. The guest may be signposted to the National Assistance Helpline on 0800 111 4000 if they need help to isolate and cannot arrange it themselves or through friends and family.

In some circumstances further discussion may be required with the local Health Protection Team and local authority to ensure that the person has suitable accommodation to isolate safely and effectively.

After the required period of self-isolation, guests and anyone else in their party who has been affected can then return to their main place of residence.

View full guidance from Scottish Government.

Information resources

The Scottish Government has collated useful resources that can be downloaded and displayed in your premises to make customers aware of the need to provide contact details, and of steps to take to safely enjoy hospitality.

Tools and resources to help your business.

NHS inform is being regularly updated with the latest clinically approved guidance in partnership with Health Protection Scotland. It has developed a range of materials and toolkits to communicate this information to the help businesses communicate this to the public. These include things like posters for public toilets, shielding guidance infographics and travel advice assets.

Useful links for the tourism industry

Should you still have questions please get in touch by emailing