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Scottish Government updates 

Scotland moved to beyond level zero restrictions on 9 August. This means the legal requirement for physical distancing and limits on gatherings have been removed and all venues across Scotland are able to re-open. Some protective measures will stay in place such as the use of face coverings indoors and the collection of contact details as part of Test and Protect. Read our news story on the latest announcement.

Scotland’s protection levels have now been replaced by baseline measures. These apply across the country. Please refer to the Scottish Government's central guidance to ensure you’re aware of what the guidance is – and any changes to your business. 

On 27 August, in a statement from Kate Forbes, Cabinet Secretary for Finance and the Economy, businesses were urged to continue to adhere to the guidance and to continue to work with their employees to implement the measures to help supress the virus. Read the full statement.

Get Tourism Ready | tourism and hospitality sector guidance 

How you continue to provide a safe environment for your customers and staff is crucially important. 

Beyond level zero, the Scottish Government continues to provide guidance to assist individuals and businesses to reduce the risk of transmission as much as possible. Rigorous hygiene, including regular hand washing, will continue to be essential.

There are no household / number caps and physical distancing requirements have been 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.

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.

Wedding, funerals, civil partnerships and other milestone events

There are no restrictions remaining on how many people may attend significant life or milestone events. 

However, requirements remain for face coverings to be worn at such events, with exemptions during the ceremony for the person leading the funeral service, marriage ceremony or civil partnership; the person providing the eulogy at a funeral; the couple getting married or entering a civil partnership; and guests accompanying one of the parties getting married or entering a civil partnership down the aisle. There are also exemptions when eating and drinking or dancing at weddings. 

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.

Beyond level zero

We are now all beyond level zero and therefore out of the levels framework, almost all COVID-19 restrictions have been removed for businesses and individuals. This means that all businesses can reopen and can operate without restrictions on physical distancing. For example, this also means that weddings can take place with dancing and singing and mingling as before the pandemic.

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.

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 include:

  • Good hand hygiene and surface cleaning
  • Continued promotion of good ventilation
  • Requirement for face coverings
  • Continued compliance with Test and Protect
  • 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 targeted restrictions on overseas travel. 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.

Keep your distance if you can

There is now no legal requirement for physical distancing and no limit on the numbers of people who can gather together to socialise.

Even though the law has changed, it’s important people keep thinking about how the virus can be transmitted. This is particularly important for those who may be vulnerable and those who are yet to be fully vaccinated. People and businesses are encouraged to think about how best to use the space available.

Face coverings must be worn at all times indoors. The regulations provide a number of exemptions, for example children under 12 or individuals with health conditions. Customers may remove their mask for the purposes of eating or drinking. Customers need not be seated to eat or drink. The regulations also provide an exemption for exercise which would include dancing.

Unless customers are eating, drinking or dancing, queuing at the bar, entering or leaving, going to the toilet, a face covering must be worn. This is a legal requirement.

Collection of customer and visitor contact details

In line with previous guidance, the Scottish Government continues to request the collection of the name and contact details for every visitor to premises. This is to create consistency across the range of settings where this is requested or mandated in Scotland, and ensure that relevant data is captured to assist the Test and Protect contact tracing service. Read the Test and Protect guidance.

In order to support NHS Scotland’s Test and Protect service, it is mandatory for hospitality and night time entertainment businesses – such as pubs, restaurants, cafes and nightclubs – to gather, record and retain minimal contact information from non-takeaway customers, visitors and staff. 

Collecting customer contact details is now a legal obligation for hospitality premises, and it's important that both premises and individuals cooperate with this requirement, as it is crucial to national efforts to suppress the virus. This measure forms part of enabling hospitality businesses to open safely, minimising the risk of the number of infections increasing, and reduce the risk of requiring future restrictions.

You can collect details of customers either through the Check-In App or by means of another method. This responsibility lies with the business. 

Read the guidance for collecting customer contact details for hospitality and night time entertainment businesses. 

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. 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 when 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.

Travel restrictions

Travel is allowed both within Scotland and between Scotland and England, Wales, Northern Ireland, the Channel Islands, and the Isle of Man.

Read the Scottish Government guidance on travel and transport.

What should you do if a booking is no longer in line with travel advice? Where a booking is no longer in line with travel advice you should follow the good practice seen so far through the pandemic, and follow the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) guidance with regard to refunds, cancellations, and rescheduling. In line with CMA guidance, a full refund should be offered to customers who booked but now cannot stay due to restrictions. 

The regulation of consumer protection is the responsibility of the UK Government at Westminster. The CMA has issued guidance to businesses and consumers about refunds.

International

The Scottish Government has introduced a risk assessment for international travel similar to the UK Government’s existing ‘traffic light’ system. This entails the following requirements for both residents of Scotland on their return and overseas visitors:

  • Arrivals from red list countries will be required to book a 10 day (11 night) managed quarantine package. Travel to such countries should only be for essential reasons. 

  • Arrivals from amber list countries that are not fully-vacinated should self-isolate at home (or if a visitor from another country, their accommodation on arrival) for 10 days, and take two PCR tests while they are isolating.

Fully-vaccinated passengers arriving from amber list countries in EU member states, the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) countries, microstates of Andorra, Monaco, San Marino and Vatican City, and the USA no longer have to self isolate on arrival in Scotland. Travellers will no longer need to self-isolate for 10 days upon arrival in Scotland, subject to the countries covered remaining on the amber travel list.

Fully vaccinated’ means that you’ve had your final dose of a COVID-19 vaccine through approved sources, at least 14 days before you arrive in Scotland.

Amber arrivals will have to carry with them a form of certification to provide details of their vaccine status. For more details see Scottish Government guidance

Adults and children (over age 12), who have been fully vaccinated must take a pre-departure test before arrival into Scotland, alongside a PCR test on or before day two after arrival. 

Arrivals from green list countries will not be required to quarantine or isolate on arrival in Scotland, but will need to take a PCR test shortly after arrival. 

Further information on this process, and details of the countries on each list, is available in the Scottish Government international travel guidance.

People are able to use private sector tests where they are now required when returning to Scotland. The step allows people to choose from a list of approved providers which can be found on the gov.uk website.

Restrictions being simplified

The international travel traffic light system of restrictions put in place to protect public health is to be substantially revised to make it simpler for travellers.

Green and amber classifications will merge, but the red list will be retained for those countries deemed to have high COVID-19 case rates or variants of concern. 

Among other countries, Turkey, Egypt and the Maldives will all be removed from the red list from 4am on Wednesday 22 September.

The current amber-level restrictions will become the default for travellers from non-red countries, with eligible fully vaccinated travellers able to benefit from quarantine-free travel.

The number of countries recognised in the eligible vaccinated traveller policy (currently only UK, EU/EFTA and USA), is being expanded to recognise countries where vaccine certification meets appropriate standards.

These include Canada, Australia, Israel, and New Zealand – with these opening up from 4 October – the date the current traffic light system formally ends.

Coronavirus testing and managed isolation

Free, fast and regular testing for people who do not have symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) is available to everyone in Scotland.

Anyone can order rapid lateral flow tests for delivery to their home and they should arrive within 24 - 48 hours. Tests will also be available for pick up without an appointment from many local walk-in or drive through test sites from 3:30pm each day. Find out where you can get lateral flow tests

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.   

Order online: Coronavirus (COVID-19) rapid lateral flow tests for home delivery.

Please note that if a test result is negative, this is not a guarantee that they do not have coronavirus. 

Do not use a rapid LFD test if you have COVID-19 symptoms. If you have symptoms you must self-isolate immediately and book a PCR test through NHS Inform.

This is a voluntary scheme and visitors will not need evidence of a negative test to travel to Scotland. However, the Scottish Government would encourage that people do participate. 

Scotland has moved out of the levels system. Everyone should continue to act carefully and remain cautious. See Coronavirus guidance: staying safe and protecting others. 

COVID-19 Testing – ‘How to’ videos in multiple languages

The Scottish Government has created step-by-step demonstration videos for lateral flow device and PCR testing:

Watch the video on Lateral Flow Device Step-By-Step Guide with Professor Jason Leitch.

Watch the PCR Step-by-Step Guide with Dr Nicola Steedman

Testing for people travelling to Scotland | international visitors

International visitors will need to buy a COVID-19 test and take this test in the three days before they travel.

When boarding their plane, they will need to provide proof that they have taken the test, and that the result of the test was negative. They may also be asked to provide proof of a negative test when they arrive in Scotland.

Read the Scottish Government's page on international travel and managed isolation on the type of test international visitors will need to buy, what their test result must include, information on the process for people entering Scotland and more.

If travelling from abroad, the foreign travel advice pages on the UK Government website will have the latest updates about where to buy COVID-19 tests in the country visitors are travelling from.

If arriving in Scotland from a red list country, visitors must quarantine at a hotel in Scotland for 10 days (11 nights) as soon as they arrive. Read more on the Scottish Government website about what visitors must do before they travel, testing whilst isolating in their hotel and getting help to pay for their quarantine.

Visitors must book the hotel they're going to isolate in before travelling to Scotland. This can only be booked through the quarantine hotel booking website. A quarantine hotel can not be booked through any other website.

Self-isolation is no longer required for adults and children (aged over 12) arriving from countries on the amber list, provided they are fully vaccinated through a UK vaccination programme and take a PCR test before travel, and on the second day after arrival. Anyone testing positive for, or experiencing symptoms of, COVID-19 will still require to isolate for 10 days.

Read full details on what visitors must do if travelling from a red, amber of green list country.

The Scottish Government does not require international visitors departing Scotland to take further tests, however, visitors must check what is required by their destination. If a test is required then these can be bought from most major pharmacies in the UK. Airports and travel agents may also be able to assist in arranging a test.

Face coverings guidance

Unless exempt for specific circumstances, the law says you must wear a face covering in most indoor public places including public transport for both residents and visitors to Scotland. The Scottish Government recommends that face coverings should be worn when moving around when it is crowded. This is encouraged for busy outdoor events. As well as a requirement for continued co-operation with test and protect and compliance with guidance on good hygiene and ventilation. 

You can read the published guidance on face coverings and face masks on the Scottish Government website. 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.

  • Face coverings are mandatory in most indoor public places, indoor communal spaces including retail, restaurants, cafes, bars and public houses, and in workplaces and on public transport. 
  • People are advised to wear a face covering in all other indoor places and where there is a risk of being within one metre of people who are not members of your household. This includes public toilets. The regulations provide a number of exemptions for example children under 12 or individuals with health conditions.
  • It's recommended that you wear face coverings outdoors in crowded spaces and where it is not possible to keep a safe distance, such as at the school gate or at the entrance to a building.
  • Face coverings need to be worn in a large indoor areas (unless an exemption applies), even in a premises with good ventilation or which has an experience which is both indoor and outdoors. 
  • If a distinction cannot be made between the outdoor and indoor part of the experience, a face coverings are advised to be worn throughout. 
  • The responsibility is primarily on individuals to follow the rules. Operators should advise customers to follow the rules. If non-compliance is deliberate and persistent operators may wish to refuse service. Everyone is expected to play their part to ensure risk is kept to a minimum and help keep businesses open. Face coverings are a legal requirement which can, if appropriate, be enforced by the police through a fixed penalty notice. 
  • All staff are required to wear face coverings whilst in any communal indoor area must wear a face covering. There is an exemption for staff who are:

  1. More than one metre away from the public/colleagues or
  2. Behind a suitable partition or
  3. Undertaking food handling tasks, to avoid risk to the hygiene or safety of food arising from or in connection with the wearing of a face covering. 

The Scottish Government has provided digital assets for businesses to remind visitors that they still need to wear face coverings in Scotland. Download the assets.

COVID-19 vaccination certification

Coronavirus vaccination certificates will be required to enter events such as nightclubs, and some music festivals and sporting events from 1 October. Any events or settings that meet the criteria for certification will need to use certification from 5am on Friday 1 October 2021 onwards, until further notice.

The Scottish Government has published an update on plans for introducing a COVID-19 vaccine certification scheme, including how the scheme will operate.

The staff at a venue subject to the scheme will download the NHS Scotland Covid Check App. This is a free QR code verifier app, to a smartphone or device from the Apple and Google store.  Work is underway on a video that shows how the NHS Covid Check app will work.

Guidance will be provided for venues on how to use the app, along with options to integrate it into their own systems as the source code is open. 

From 30 September, people will be able to use the NHS Scotland Covid Status App  which also has a QR code, to access venues where certification is required. From this date the current downloadable PDF function will be switched off.

Anyone unable or unwilling to use the App can request a secure uneditable paper record of vaccination, with enhanced security features such as thermodynamic ink to prevent forgery.

The scheme will apply to the following venues:

The following people will be exempt:

  • under 18s
  • participants in vaccine trials
  • people who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons and
  • people working or performing in the venues

Regulations will impose a legal obligation on the business, and on the person responsible for the business or organising an event, to take all reasonable measures to ensure that only those fully vaccinated or exempt in settings where certification is required are on the premises and to have regard to guidance issued by Scottish Government. 

All software, apps and paper copies of certificates will be free to use. Businesses will be able to use the NHS Scotland Covid Check App.

Businesses will require a hardware mechanism (such as mobile phones) to verify the certificates. Any additional staffing or infrastructure costs will be met by businesses.

There are currently no plans to introduce certification for the wider hospitality industry, but this will be kept under review over the autumn and winter months.

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 with everyone in their household and book a test. If the test is negative, everyone can end isolation. If the test is positive, the index case (or person who has tested positive for COVID-19) should continue to self-isolate and the NHS Test and Protect team will be in touch to start contact tracing.

The household / close contacts should also self-isolate whilst awaiting a test and depending on their age, vaccination status and whether they have any symptoms, they will be given advice on self-isolation through Test and Protect as appropriate.  

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, if guests are able to isolate safely in holiday / temporary accommodation, this may be advisable. If such an extended stay is necessary, unless otherwise provided for in the contractual terms of the booking, the guest will be expected to pay the costs of an extended stay in all but exceptional circumstances. 

Those who test positive for coronavirus should not travel by public transport or take a flight. If possible, they would be able to drive themselves home. If the guest is either unable to travel home safely or to isolate within their current accommodation (for example if there are shared facilities, or risks cannot be mitigated to protect staff), 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 on COVID-19 or other illness on the premises.

Queueing

All legal physical distancing requirements have now been removed and customers would now be allowed to queue in an indoor hospitality setting. For example, at a bar, buffet, toilet or entrance. 

To prevent viral spread however, good practice for queuing and visitor management at pinch points (e.g. where drinks are served, buffets, entrances and exits) is strongly encouraged. Drinking or loitering in such areas should be discouraged. For further information on good practice please see the guidance on good practice page.

Ventilation

The Scottish Government has produced guidance for employers, building managers and those who are responsible for workplace, non-domestic or commercial settings, especially where people work with or are close to other people.

The guidance explains the role of effective ventilation in helping to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in these settings. A range of experts / stakeholders have contributed to this guidance, which you can find on the Scottish Government website.

Information resources

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. Visit the NHS Inform website for more information.

The Scottish Government has collated useful resources that can be used across your channels. In recognition of the rising numbers in COVID-19 cases, it has launched the ‘Stop the Spike’ Campaign to remind the public of the key safety measures they can continue doing to keep each other safe.

The ‘Stop the Spike’ campaign features a number of celebrities including comedians and online influencers, and will be running until 24 September on TV, radio, digital and social channels. 

‘Stop the Spike’ and COVID-19 pillar campaign assets:

Useful links for the tourism industry

Should you still have questions please get in touch by emailing business.advice@visitscotland.com.