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Background (Level 3 and Counting Down)


Level 3

On 26 April with the combination of lockdown and vaccination rollout having reduced weekly confirmed fatalities below 5 and trending lower the level 4 restrictions were eased into a modified level 3.

When travelling between different Scottish Level 3 local authorities there is no longer any requirement to return to your home of an evening, and travel restrictions to and from England and Wales are rescinded.

The prohibition of in-home socialising continues, but social mixing in indoor public places increases to max of 6 people from 2 households [outdoor socialising of up to 6 adults from 6 households was permitted since 16th April].

Pubs, cafes and restaurants can open fully outdoors with alcohol permitted till 22:00. There will also be limited hospitality opening indoors till 20:00, but without alcohol.

Remaining shops can re-open and mobile close contact services can resume.

Gyms can reopen for individual exercise.

Tourist accommodation to reopen (self-catering abiding with rules on indoor gathering).

Non-essential maintenance work in people’s homes to resume.

Driving lessons to resume.

Weddings and funerals for up to 50 (including wakes and receptions with no alcohol).

Libraries, museums, galleries re-open.


Level 2

On 17 May with weekly confirmed fatalities hovering around  2, restrictions were further eased (for most of mainland Scotland) to a modified level 2

This saw the re-introduction of in-home socialising for up to 6 people from up to 3 households (with overnight stays permitted). There is no longer a requirement to observe social distancing within private homes or gardens. Outdoor socialising increased from a maximum of 6 people to a maximum of 8 people (from separate households). Social mixing in indoor public places is permissible for up to 6 people from up to 3 households. Indoor bars, pubs, restaurants and cafes may stay open until 22:30 with alcohol permitted and 2 hour time-limited booking slots.

Adult outdoor contact sport and indoor group exercises can resume, and cinemas, amusement arcades and bingo halls can re-open subject to capacity constraints (also applies to small scale indoor and outdoor events). Colleges and universities can return to a more blended model of learning. Non-professional performance arts can resume outdoors.


Level 1

On 5th June most of Scotland outwith the central belt progressed to level 1. It had been hoped that all of Scotland would have been eligible, but this was thwarted by the persistence of high Covid-19 cases in central Scotland. Having endured some of the strictest restrictions in the UK over the past eight months, Glasgow was promoted to share level 2  with much of the rest of the central belt. Physical distancing still applies in Level 1 (private homes / gardens excepted). Social mixing in indoor public places is slightly adjusted to max of 8 people from 3 households. Indoor hospitality closes at 23:00hrs. Outdoor socialising increases to maximum of 12 people from 12 households. Up to 100 people can attend weddings and funerals.

For organised outdoor sports the maximum bubble size of participants allowed to take part increased from 30 (level 3) to 50 (level 2) to 100 (level 1) to 500 (level 0).


21st June saw yet another cringeworthy instance of Nicola Sturgeon’s political point scoring as she introduced an unenforceable (and short-lived) travel ban between Scotland and Manchester to “protect Scotland” from escalating cases being temporarily experienced there. This posturing was rendered all-the-more ludicrous given that within a fortnight Scotland was itself declared by WHO to be one of the top European COVID hotspots.


Level 0

On Monday 19 July (England’s much toned down “Freedom Day”) all parts of Scotland moved into Level 0 (delayed from 28th June, and somewhat ‘modified’ on account of concerns over the more easily transmitted Indian/Delta variant).

In-home social group meetings of up to 8 people from 4 households became permissible (without social distancing and with overnight stays). [Note that under-12s do not count towards total numbers.] For indoor public places this number is increased to 10, and the previous 2 metre distancing requirement between households is reduced to 1 metre. Facemasks remain mandatory in shops and public transport.

Whilst 15 people (from 15 households) may meet outdoors without physically distancing, 1 metre distancing will apply for larger events. Stadia attendances will increase outdoors to 2,000 seated and 1,000 standing, and indoors to 400.

Up to 200 people can attend weddings and funerals. Tradespeople can carry out work within your home. The curfew at hospitality venues is moved to midnight. With the notable exception of nightclubs and adult entertainment, almost all businesses (incl soft play centres) can open (albeit with maximum numbers in place for stadiums and events).

Travel throughout the UK is permissible. International travel restrictions are aligned with those for England (hence travellers from amber list countries will no longer have to self-isolate upon return if either they have had both jabs or are under 18.


Beyond Level 0

On Monday 9th August 2021, with its daily Covid-19 fatality rate hovering around 6, Scotland moved ‘beyond level zero’, which did not however remove the obligation to wear facemasks in secondary schools [not mandated in England since 17th May] or in public settings,  or absolve businesses from the need to collect customer’s contact details. Homeworking, where possible, was still advised.

However, those persons identified as close contacts of a positive case no longer need to self-isolate, provided that they return a negative PCR test and are either double vaccinated (or younger than 18). Isolation requirements of entire ‘school bubbles’ were scrapped in favour of a more targeted approach.

With some exceptions (such as school and healthcare settings) legally required social distancing ended, and the limitations on the number of people who are allowed to meet, indoors or outdoors, in both private and public settings is removed. Children under the age of 12 are no longer mandated to wear face coverings in public places. With wedding guests no longer required to physically distance, dancing is again possible. The midnight curfew at hospitality venues was rescinded in favour of reverting to normal licensing hours. Nightclubs are among the venues allowed to reopen

Subsequent to the August relaxations the daily fatality rate peaked at around 23 towards the end of September, thereafter steadily drifting lower to circa 9 by year end, doubtless aided by the roll-out of booster jabs to supplement 1st and 2nd vaccinations. From 6 August, 16 - 17 year olds became eligible to receive the vaccine, and from 20 September this was extended to include 12 - 15 year olds.

18th October 2021 saw the enforcement of covid vaccine passport take effect with proof of double jab required in order to gain access to nightclubs, strip clubs and unseated indoor events with more than 500 people, unseated outdoor events with over 4,000 and any event with more than 10,000 people. However, from 6 December it became sufficient to provide a negative lateral flow test instead.

At the end of November a highly transmissible but less severe Omicron variant surfaced panicking the government to introduce further retrograde restrictions. and advising Scots to take a lateral flow test every time they leave home! Having already urged people to cancel their Christmas parties, the self-isolation rules were tightened from 11th December, requiring anyone living with someone who tests positive for COVID to self-isolate for ten days. The public were also urged to limit their gatherings to three households in the run up to Christmas.

On 17th December 2021, with the Omicron variant having usurped Delta to become the most dominant variant, new guidelines advised hospitality and retail businesses to return to social distancing and employ one-way systems. Effective from boxing day (reputedly for a three weeks period) the size of live public events was limited to 500 outdoors, 200 indoors seated (or 100 standing). In effect football matches become spectator-less and large Hogmanay celebrations are cancelled. Nightclubs are shut down and hospitality venues serving alcohol must offer table service only. One metre physical distancing is reintroduced for the hospitality and leisure sectors. The above measures were all rescinded on 24th January 2022.  

Daily Covid cases saw a dramatic six-fold rise over December 2021, with the peak of 20,000 coinciding with New Year. However, due to lag the two and a half fold increase in daily fatalities from 9 to a peak of 22 did not come about until 19th January 2022. Following upon a significant dip another spike towards the end of March peaked at 27 daily fatalities, thereafter trending to 3 by mid June. However, July and August figures have averaged about 10 (National Records for Scotland).   


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