With the Scottish Government recently setting out its plans for the easing of COVID-19 restrictions across Scotland, now is a good time to review what is permitted under each level of the updated "five-tier alert system" of Coronavirus regulations.

As with the previous system (first introduced on 2 November 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.

Every area in Scotland will be categorised into one of the five tiers, which will be searchable via the postcode checker, allowing people to see what tier they are in over the coming weeks and months as the situation develops.

The tiers

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

It is important that businesses familiarise themselves with how they are permitted to operate, based on their geographic location and their categorisation under 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. This is not an exhaustive list (and can be subject to changing government guidance) – reference should be made to the full details contained in the Scottish Government guidance.

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 4: Lockdown

These restrictions were announced on 4 January 2021 and imposed on all of Scotland (with the exception of certain island areas):

What is permitted? What is not permitted?
  • A maximum of four people from up to two households can meet outdoors and in hospitality settings.
  • Some outdoor meetings will be allowed and schools will remain open.
  • Outdoor non-contact sports and group exercise only for adults, with groups of up to 15. 12-17 year old outdoor contact sport and group exercise up to 15 people, and under-12s outdoor contact sport and group exercise with no limit.
  • Weddings, funerals and wakes with a maximum of 20 people. No receptions permitted.
  • Food to go/takeaways may open only for doorway/hatch collection or deliveries.
  • Hairdressers and barbers may open for appointments only.
  • Non-essential shops may be forced to close.
  • No travel into or out of the Level 4 local authority area unless for a permitted reason.
  • Hotels, B&Bs and self-catering accommodation to close, unless used for essential accommodation.
  • All hospitality must close.
  • Gyms must close.
  • No non-essential use of public transport.
  • Public buildings, including gyms and all leisure, entertainment, events locations and indoors visitor attractions must close.
  • International travel quarantine regulations apply.

 

Level 3:

Since 26 April 2021, all of Scotland has been placed into Level 3.

What is permitted? What is not permitted?
  • Travel within Scotland, England and Wales will be allowed (subject to local restrictions in place)
  • A maximum of six people from up to two households can meet indoors in public places.
  • Outdoor meetings with a maximum of six people from up to six households.
  • Restaurants may remain open, with alcohol permitted to be sold outdoors subject to local licensing laws. Indoor services (no alcohol) must close by 20.00.
  • Weddings, funerals and wakes with a maximum of 50 people, with alcohol permitted.
  • Only individual indoor exercise, and outdoor exercise, except adult contact sports, is permitted.
  • Tourist accommodation may open, subject to in-house socialising rules.
  • Visitor attractions may open.
  • Close contact services may open.

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

  • Sale of alcohol is not permitted indoors.
  • Non-essential use of public transport should be avoided.
  • Whilst travel anywhere in Scotland is permitted, you should not stay away from your local council area overnight.
  • Leisure and entertainment facilities will be closed.
  • Stadia and events closed, with the exception of drive in events.

 

Level 2:

On 17 May 2021, the Scottish Government moved large parts of the country to Level 2 (on that date only Glasgow and Moray remained in Level 3). This categorisation continues to be subject to the progress made with the vaccination programme and based on what the government has learned about the vaccine’s impact on virus transmission rates.

What is permitted? What is not permitted?

In addition to the restrictions that were eased in Level 3:

  • A maximum of six people from up to three households can meet indoors in public places, while a maximum of four people from up to two households can meet in a private dwelling.
  • Outdoor meetings with a maximum of eight people from up to eight households.
  • Pubs will be permitted to sell alcohol indoors in two-hour slots, and must close by 22.30.
  • Sale of alcohol outdoors is permitted subject to local licensing laws.
  • Weddings, funerals and wakes with a maximum of 50 people, with alcohol permitted.
  • Cinemas, theatres, concert halls, music venues, comedy clubs, amusement arcades, and bingo halls permitted to open.
  • Stadia and events (indoors and outdoors) permitted to open, with up to 100 permitted indoors, and either 500 or 250 outdoors depending on whether people are seated or standing respectively.

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

  • Soft play, funfairs, bowling alleys, snooker/pool halls and nightclubs must remain closed.
  • Travel restrictions will be kept under review.

 

Level 1:

This level is designed to allow for some level of normality but imposes greater restrictions on indoor and outdoor meetings than at Level 0, with the Scottish Government targeting a move to Level 1 by the start of June.

What is permitted? What is not permitted?

In addition to the restrictions that were eased in Levels 3 and 2:

  • Indoor meetings with a maximum of eight people from up to three households in public spaces, or a maximum of six people from up to three households in private dwellings.
  • Outdoor meetings with a maximum of 12 people from up to 12 households.
  • Sale of alcohol outdoors is permitted subject to local licensing laws but indoors sales must stop by 23.00.
  • Weddings, funerals and wakes with a maximum of 100 people, with alcohol permitted.
  • Stadia and events (indoors and outdoors) permitted to open, with up to 200 permitted indoors, and either 1,000 or 500 outdoors depending on whether people are seated or standing respectively.

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

  • Indoor contact sports for adults are not permitted.
  • Travel restrictions will be kept under review.

 

Level 0:

This level represents the final stage of restrictions being eased with circumstances back to ‘normal’, with the Scottish Government targeting a move to Level 0 by the end of June.

What is permitted? What is not permitted?

In addition to the restrictions that were eased in Levels 3, 2 and 1:

  • Indoor meetings with a maximum of 10 people from up to four households in public spaces, or a maximum of eight people from up to four households in private dwellings.
  • Outdoor meetings with a maximum of 15 people from up to 15 households.
  • Weddings, funerals and wakes with a maximum of 200 people, with alcohol permitted.
  • Retail, leisure, hospitality and entertainment facilities may remain open.
  • Sale of alcohol (both indoors and outdoors) is permitted, with local licensing laws applying.
  • All sport and exercise is permitted.
  • Work from home remains default but phased and limited return to offices can begin
  • Stadia and events (indoors and outdoors) permitted to open, with up to 400 permitted indoors, and either 2,000 or 4,000 outdoors depending on whether people are seated or standing respectively.
  • Travel restrictions will be kept under review. It may be that unrestricted travel will be allowed to all Levels 0-2 areas, but no travel to Level 3 or 4 areas unless for a permitted reason.
  • Car sharing with people outside of extended household should be avoided wherever possible.
  • People are not permitted to use public transport without wearing face coverings.
  • Nightclubs cannot open.

 

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