With the second wave of COVID-19 cases, it has become clear that a new system is needed to regulate the country’s response to the pandemic. From Monday 2 November 2020, the Scottish Government will implement a new five-tier alert system of COVID-19 regulations – two more than the English three-tier alert system, implemented on 14 October 2020.

The five tiers will, in theory, allow the Scottish Government to impose appropriate restrictions targeted to those geographic regions most affected by the virus. Areas with low levels of COVID-19 cases should face fewer restrictions than those impacted by high numbers of cases of the virus. The system hopes to tackle the “four harms of the virus” by:

  1. Suppressing the virus and reducing the direct harm caused by the virus to people’s health;
  2. Supporting broader health and reducing the pressure put on the NHS and social care services;
  3. Mitigating social harms; and
  4. Supporting the economy.

Every area in Scotland will be categorised into one of the five tiers, which will be searchable via a new postcode checker, allowing people to see what tier they are in over the coming weeks and months as the situation develops. The First Minister noted that her overriding objective across all the tiers was to keep schools open.

The updated guidance also offers a small glimmer of hope for those licensed premises located within Tier 3. For the last couple of weeks, licensed premises within the central belt have been forced to close. Going forward, licensed premises will be able to be open for food, albeit they will need to close by 6pm and there can be no sales of alcohol.

The Scottish Government has prepared a very helpful table summarising the hospitality measures that it has put in place.

The Tiers

The Scottish Government has published an extensive list of what is, and what is not, permitted within each of the Tiers. 

It will be important for businesses to familiarise themselves with how they are permitted to operate, based on their geographic location and if that location is re-categorised, within the five tier system.  That is not just important for business, but also for employees and customers.

A failure to review, understand, and implement the new rules could result in enforcement action being taken against businesses that fail to comply.

We have set out a summary of the five tier system in the tables below.

If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to speak to Kevin Clancy or your usual Shepherd and Wedderburn contact.


A short summary of the Scottish Government Tier System

Level 0: Nearly Normal

This level represents the most ‘normal’ set of circumstances that the Scottish Government believes can be permitted in the absence of a vaccine.

What is permitted? What is not permitted?
  • Indoor meetings with a maximum of eight people from up to three households.
  • Outdoor meetings with a maximum of 15 people from five households.
  • Weddings, funerals and wakes with a maximum of 50 people.
  • Retail, leisure and entertainment facilities may remain open.
  • Sale of alcohol (both indoors and outdoors) is permitted, but some time restrictions may apply.
  • All sport and exercise is permitted.
  • No non-essential travel to areas in Level 3 or above.
  • Car sharing should be avoided.
  • International quarantine regulations apply.
  • People are not permitted to enter indoor premises, or use public transport, without wearing face coverings.
  • Nightclubs cannot open.

 Level 1: Medium

This level is designed to allow for some level of normality but imposes greater restrictions on indoor and outdoor meetings than at Level 0.

What is permitted? What is not permitted?
  • Indoor (but not in homes) and outdoor meetings are allowed with a maximum of six people from two households. These meetings may be subject to time restrictions, such as curfews.
  • Sale of alcohol (both indoors and outdoors) is permitted but time restrictions may apply.
  • Weddings, funerals and wakes with a maximum of 20 people.
  • Small indoor seated events.
  • Those who cannot work from home are permitted to attend their workplace, but working from home is encouraged.

The same restrictions as apply to Level 0. In addition:

  • Indoor contact sports for adults are not permitted.

Level 2: High

These restrictions are similar to the current restrictions (as at 29 October 2020) across Scotland.

What is permitted? What is not permitted?
  • A maximum of six people from two households can meet outdoors and indoor/outdoor hospitality settings.
  • Pubs will be permitted to sell alcohol indoors, provided it is only served alongside a main meal. Time restrictions may apply.
  • Sale of alcohol outdoors is permitted but time restrictions may apply.
  • Weddings, funerals and wakes with a maximum of 20 people.
  • Working from home is the default.

The same restrictions as apply to Levels 0 and 1. In addition:

  • Indoor meetings with other households are not permitted.
  • Leisure and entertainment premises are largely closed, with the exception of cinemas and amusement arcades.
  • With the exception of drive-through facilities, stadium gatherings and events will be banned.

 Level 3: Very High

These restrictions are similar to the current restrictions (as at 29 October 2020) across the central belt of Scotland.

What is permitted? What is not permitted?
  • A maximum of six people from two households can meet outdoors and in hospitality settings.
  • Restaurants may be able to remain open, subject to restrictions on opening hours and a prohibition on alcohol.
  • Weddings, funerals and wakes with a maximum of 20 people.
  • Only individual indoor exercise, and outdoor exercise, except adult contact sports, is permitted.

The same restrictions as apply to Levels 0, 1 and 2. In addition:

  • Sale of alcohol is not permitted, indoors or outdoors.
  • No non-essential travel into or out of the Level 3 area is permitted.
  • Non-essential use of public transport should be avoided.
  • Cinemas and amusement arcades will be closed.

​Level 4: Lockdown

This tier would impose restrictions that are broadly consistent with those imposed at the end of March 2020. The Scottish Government has confirmed it will not resort to imposing these restrictions unless “absolutely necessary” – i.e. in circumstances where there is a risk of the NHS being overwhelmed.

What is permitted? What is not permitted?
  • A maximum of six people from two households can meet outdoors and in hospitality settings.
  • Some outdoor meetings will be allowed and schools will remain open.
  • Outdoor non-contact sports only.
  • Weddings would be permitted, but limited to a maximum of 15 people (20 people for funerals and wakes).  No receptions permitted.

The same restrictions as apply to Levels 0, 1, 2 and 3. In addition:

  • Consistent with the previous restrictions imposed at the end of March 2020, non-essential shops may be forced to close.
  • No non-essential travel into or out of the Level 4 area is permitted
  • Hotels, B&Bs and self-catering accommodation would be closed, unless used for essential accommodation.
  • Restaurants, cafes, bars and public houses must close.
  • Gyms would be closed.
  • No non-essential travel would be allowed.
  • No non-essential use of public transport would be allowed.
  • Hairdressers and beauticians would have to shut.
  • Public buildings, including gyms and all leisure, entertainment and visitor attractions would be closed.

 

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