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Scottish Government updates 

A financial package to support businesses experiencing festive cancellations due to the rapid spread of the new Omicron variant has been announced. Further information is available on Find Business Support website.

On 24 January, it was announced that testing requirements for fully vaccinated people arriving in Scotland are to be dropped and further work will be done on a new surveillance system to monitor the border. 

Non vaccinated travellers will still be required to take pre-departure tests and a PCR test on or before day two – but the requirement for isolation will end – and they will no longer have to take a day eight test. The new measures come into effect at 4am on 11 February.

Get Tourism Ready | tourism and hospitality sector guidance 

The Scottish Government continues to provide guidance to assist individuals and businesses to reduce the risk of transmission as much as possible.

Businesses should strengthen compliance with current protection measures. Continued collective effort and commitment, particularly in sticking to the rules and guidance in place, will be a critical part of our response to the challenging winter ahead.

Take a look at the guidance for the tourism and hospitality sector, including procedures for staff and customer safety and an operations checklist.

The tourism and hospitality guidance has been updated (23 December 2021) and should be read in conjunction with the safer workplaces guidance, which contains the key elements of mandatory and advisory protection measures, alongside advice and resources on risk management.

The Omnicron restrictions that took effect from 26 (live events) and 27 December are no longer in force as of Monday 24 January.

Read the First Ministers announcement.

The central message for those operating in the tourism and hospitality sector is to ensure that you review your risk assessment in line with the updated guidance on taking reasonable measures to reduce risk. This should be done as a priority.

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 some exemptions in place.

For more information on the rules for weddings and funerals see the staying safe guidance (weddings and funerals section).

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.

Collection of customer and visitor contact details

Hospitality and night time entertainment businesses (such as pubs, restaurants, cafes and nightclubs) must collect the name and contact details for every customer, visitor and staff on its premises.

This is to create consistency across the range of settings where this is requested or mandated in Scotland. It will also ensure that relevant data is captured to assist NHS Scotland’s Test and Protect contact tracing service. Read the Test and Protect guidance.

Collecting customer contact details is a legal obligation, 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 / night time entertainment 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. 

Travel restrictions

Domestic

Travel is allowed within Scotland.

Travel is allowed between Scotland and England, Wales, Northern Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man. Read the travel guidance on the Scottish Government website.

Your plans may still be affected if the area you’re travelling to or from has local restrictions in place.

International

Please note, there are no countries currently on the red list. However this could change at short notice.

For international travel, a risk assessment for international travel is in place. This affects both residents of Scotland on their return and overseas visitors:

  • arrivals from red list countries will be required to enter a managed isolation hotel and stay there for 10 days. Travel to such countries should only be for essential reasons

  • arrivals from non-red list countries have different rules for testing and isolation which depends on vaccine status

If fully vaccinated

From Sunday 9 January, fully vaccinated visitors and children under 18 no longer need to take a pre-departure test before travelling to Scotland from abroad, or to self-isolate on arrival.

If a visitor is fully vaccinated, there are three things they must do before they arrive in Scotland:

  1. Make sure they’re able to prove they’re fully vaccinated
  2. Book a COVID-19 day-two test
  3. Complete a Passenger Locator Form on gov.uk

If not fully vaccinated

 If not fully vaccinated, visitors must:

On arrival in Scotland visitors must:

  • isolate in the place they are staying for 10 days (self-isolation)
  • take the COVID-19 PCR tests – visitors should take their COVID-19 Day two PCR test on or before day two of their 10-day self-isolation, and their COVID-19 Day eight PCR test on or after day eight

Read the COVID-19 international travel and managed isolation (quarantine) guidance on the Scottish Government website

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 throughout 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  issued guidance to businesses and consumers about refunds.

Travelling safely 

Transport Scotland has produced guidance on travelling safely in all forms of transport.

 

COVID-19 vaccination certification

A COVID vaccine certificate or record of a recent negative COVID-19 test result (from either a lateral flow device or PCR) is needed to get into the following higher risk settings in Scotland:

  • late night premises with music, which serve alcohol at any time between midnight and 5am and have a designated place for dancing for customers
  • indoor events (unseated) with 500 or more people
  • outdoor events (unseated) with 4,000 or more people
  • any event with 10,000 or more people

Everyone attending these settings and events must show they have been fully vaccinated or have tested negative in the last 24 hours for COVID-19, unless they fall within one of the exemptions.

Guidance is available on the Scottish Government website on how the vaccine certification (or COVID-19 passport) scheme operates and what venues, businesses and event organisers need to do.

Toolkit  a toolkit is available to help businesses and event organisers, explaining their obligations and how to check COVID vaccination certificates presented by members of the public. Access the toolkit at Guidance for venues | NHS Scotland COVID Check.

Businesses and event organisers can download the free NHS Scotland COVID Check app to a smartphone or other suitable device to verify vaccine certificates

NHS Scotland COVID Status App – people can use the NHS Scotland COVID Status App, which also has a QR code, to access venues where certification is required. The app can be downloaded from the Apple App or Google Play stores and more information can be found on the NHS Inform website

The scheme will be reviewed at regular intervals in line with the current process for reviewing COVID regulations every three weeks.

Inform your international visitors

The Scottish Government has created a number of assets which can be used to help inform international travellers of the app and highlight how it will provide an easy way to show proof of their vaccination status which will be required to travel. Download the assets from the Scottish Government.

International visitors from an EU member state, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland, Andorra, Monaco, San Marino or Vatican City, can get proof of vaccination through the European Digital COVID certificate.

If a visitor is from the US, and normally lives there, they’ll need to take their CDC card when they travel and provide proof of their US address.

For other countries, and the full guidance on vaccination rules for international travellers, visit the Scottish Government website

Vaccination rules

You can keep up to date with the latest rules at the Scottish Government website’s international travel pages.

Find out more about exemptions on the Scottish Government website.

Many other countries have rules in place about who can enter and what you can do when you are there. Before you travel, you should read the FCDO travel advice for the countries you will visit.

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

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. 

A rapid lateral flow test should not be used if they have COVID-19 symptoms. If they have symptoms they must self-isolate immediately and book a PCR test through NHS Inform.

See "Coronavirus guidance: staying safe and protecting others" on the Scottish Government website

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

If you’re fully vaccinated, or under 18, you do not need to take a COVID-19 test before travelling to Scotland.

If you’re not fully vaccinated, you will need to provide proof when you board a flight to Scotland from abroad that you've taken a COVID-19 PCR or lateral flow test. Your proof will need to show that:

  • your COVID-19 test was taken no more than 2 days before your flight
  • the result of your test was negative

You may also be asked to provide proof of your negative test when you arrive in Scotland.

Read the Scottish Government's page on international travel and quarantine guideance.  This includes details for non-vaccinated, or not yet fully-vaccinated, travellers and information about travel within the UK and the Common Travel Area. 

There are currently no countries on Scotland's red list

The Scottish Government does not require international visitors departing Scotland to take further tests, however, visitors must check what is required by their destination on the government website. 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.

The rules are changing for travellers to Scotland from 4am on Friday 11 February.

If you’re fully vaccinated, you'll no longer need to take a COVID-19 day 2 test after you arrive. You'll still have to complete a Passenger Locator Form (PLF) in the 48 hours before travelling back to Scotland. 

If you’re not fully vaccinated, you'll no longer need to self-isolate on arrival or take a COVID-19 Day 8 PCR test. You'll still need to take a COVID-19 test before travelling to Scotland, complete a Passenger Locator Form (PLF), and take a PCR test on or before day 2 after you arrive.   

If you arrive in Scotland before 4am on Friday 11 February, you must still follow the current rules. Read more on the Scottish Government website.

Face coverings – a legal requirement

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. You are also advised to wear a face covering outdoors in crowded places, and especially in places where people gather. For example, you may want to wear a face covering in the street if it is very busy.

If a distinction cannot be made between the outdoor and indoor part of the experience, face coverings are advised to be worn throughout. 

All staff are required to wear face coverings whilst in any communal indoor area.

There are also some situations when you can temporarily remove your face covering, for example when sitting at a table in a restaurant, cafe or bar or when you are eating or drinking. Go to the Scottish Government exemptions section for more information.

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 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. 

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 from the Scottish Government.

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 and book a test, and whilst awaiting this test result, everyone in their household should isolate. 

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. If 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

Queuing inside premises (excluding retail till points) should be avoided where possible. Many premises are already familiar with managing queues, either at doors or within premises. 

Consider whether current arrangements can be expanded, or new arrangements introduced, to manage pinch points so that customers have adequate space to queue apart from one another i.e. one metre, and crowding does not occur.

For further information, please see the tourism and hospitality guidance on the Scottish Government website.

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.

In September 2021 the Scottish Government announced the establishment of a £25 million fund to help businesses improve ventilation.

This fund opened for applications on 23 November. Businesses such as restaurants, bars and gyms are able to claim back costs of up to £2,500 for measures like the installation of carbon dioxide monitors or improvements to windows and vents.

More information on eligibility for the Business Ventilation Fund is available on the Find Business Support website. Applications will be accepted until Thursday 31 March 2022 or until the fund runs out, whichever comes first.

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 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 recently launched the "Safer Choices Make a Difference" campaign to remind the public of the key safety measures and testing behaviours they can continue doing to keep each other safe. 

Safer Choices Make a Difference 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.