Coronavirus (COVID-19) advice. Find more advice on exploring Scotland during Covid-19 on our dedicated page.

Bloodyfoot near Kinglassie on the Pilgrim Way © Fife Council / Damian Shields


Covid-19 Recovery Phases in Scotland

The majority of Scotland is now under a temporary lockdown, though some island communities are under level 3 restrictions. That means everyone is being asked to stay at home except for essential purposes.

If you’re thinking about taking a day trip or overnight stay in the future, please plan ahead carefully with 'Good to Go', to see who has carried out a COVID-19 risk assessment. Please remember to plan and book ahead - many businesses including attractions can't accept walk-ins anymore due to capacity restrictions and other safety measures.

We've got all the information you need on what you need to know - physical distancing guidelines and face coverings, what's open, and other questions you might have on safety measures to keep you safe from Covid-19 on your Scottish trip.

Last updated: 23 February 2021

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What everyone needs to know 


  • The majority of Scotland is now under a temporary lockdown, though some island communities are under level 3 restrictions. You can read more about these exceptions on the Scottish Government website.
  • The Outer Hebrides have moved from level 3 to a temporary lockdown as per the majority of Scotland from Saturday 30 January.
  • No-one should travel outside their own council area, except for certain essential purposes.


The Scottish Government has outlined an indicative plan for the easing of the current lockdown restrictions on 23 February.

Expected March 15

  • Non-contact outdoor sport for 12-17 year old can resume
  • Outdoor contact restricted to 4 people from 2 households

Expected April 5

  • Stay at home restriction is lifted
  • Outdoor contact restricted to 6 people from 2 households
  • Further re-opening of retail as the current definition is expanded on essential purposes

Expected April 26

  • Lockdown ends and the country moves back to a level-system with each area moving down to level 3, with some limits for specific areas


  • You can book your household onto organised activities - outdoor activities, tours, coaches - alongside other unconnected households, as these operators are still allowed to take larger numbers where capacity allows. You should keep to your own household within the activity, follow 2 m physical distancing (1 m for organised day boat trips) and wear your mask on coaches, tours and boat trips.
  • You can only stay in self-catered accommodation (including caravans, flats and holiday cottages) with your own household while restrictions on indoor private gatherings are in place.
  • If you are planning a stay in a hotel, B&B or similar, you should book at least one room per household.

Contact tracing app

  • All residents and visitors should download the Protect Scotland app for free from the Apple and Google stores. The app will alert you if you have been in close contact with another app user who has tested positive for coronavirus. It supports contact tracing and works through Bluetooth anonymously, protecting your privacy.

Local areas Covid-19 levels

The majority of Scotland is now in temporary lockdown. Only the island communities listed below are under level 3 restrictions.

  • Orkney
  • Shetland
  • Argyll & The Isles islands of Coll, Colonsay, Erraid, Gometra, Iona, Islay, Jura, Mull, Oronsay, Tiree, Ulva
  • All Highland islands (not including Skye)

Covid-19 Levels Explained

This tells you what restrictions are in place for each level of the Scottish Government's Covid-19 system.

See the Covid-19 Protection Levels as a Map and the Covid-19 Tier Restrictions as a Table for more information. See below for a summary of the restrictions.

Temporary Lockdown

  • You may only meet in groups of 2 people from 2 households, and only during sport, outdoor exercise or for social interaction.
  • Children under 12 do not count and do not need to physically distance.
  • You may only leave your home for essential purposes, and should stay as close to home as you can. Please see the Scottish Government website for the full list of essential purposes.

Level 3

  • Socialising: no in-home socialising, 6 people from 2 households outdoors and public places.
  • Hospitality: no alcohol on-sale outdoors or indoors. Open for food only until 6pm.
  • Accommodation: non-essential use only by locals encouraged. Essential work-related use allowed.
  • Visitor Attractions: all open or outdoor only open, depending on circumstances.
  • Travel: no non-essential travel into or out of this area. Exemptions for essential work, education, shopping, health, outdoor exercise, weddings and funerals, and transit through to other areas.
  • Transport: walk, run, cycle, wheel where possible. Avoid car sharing with people outside of household where possible. Avoid non-essential use of public transport.
  • Shopping: open.
  • Stadia & Events: closed to spectators, events not permitted.
  • Leisure & Entertainment: closed.

Other notes

  • There are exceptions to the indoor household restrictions for those who live alone, non-cohabiting couples, childcare and tradespeople.
  • Maintain a 2 m distance from anyone outside your household, unless in a specific setting where a 1 m distance is advised due to additional precautions (eg hospitality). This doesn't apply to children under 12.
  • Face coverings are mandatory on public transport, in shops, tourist attractions, cinemas and pubs, bars, restaurants and cafes, when not at your table.
  • You should not share a journey in a private car with someone outside your household.

Good to Go scheme

You can search our website for businesses who are part of the Good to Go scheme.


  • Always check directly with a business before visiting - some businesses may need a little longer to prepare for reopening after lockdown.
  • They will also be able to tell you if you need to book in advance, and what safety measures they have will be operating when you visit.
  • Look out for the Good to Go scheme logo, which shows which businesses have carried out a Covid-19 risk assessment.

Dunbar Cliff Top Trail



Check out our top tips from the Scottish Outdoor Access Code and help us look after Scotland's great outdoors on your break. Keeping the countryside beautiful by tidying up after ourselves, following the guidance on when and where to camp, and not lighting fires ensures it'll all be just as lovely for those who come along after us.

Find out more advice on exploring the countryside of Scotland just now.


Under current Scottish regulations, unless you have a reasonable exception, you must not travel between Scotland and England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Ireland. Find out more from the Scottish Government on travel between Scotland and the rest of the UK.


Everyone travelling to Scotland from abroad will be required to show proof of a negative Covid-19 test, taken no more than 72 hours before travel. This will be introduced from 4am on Friday 15 January 2021. Further information is available from the Scottish Government on pre-departure testing.

From 15 February, travellers into Scotland from outside the Common Travel Area will need to self-isolate in designated quarantine hotels for ten days at a cost of £1,750 per individual traveller. During this self-isolation you will be tested for COVID-19 on days two and eight. Exemptions for some essential travel may apply. Please check the guidelines from the Scottish Government for more info.

Every visitor needs to provide their journey and contact details when travelling to Scotland. These rules apply even to those who land in another part of the UK, and travel on by other means to Scotland.

Find out more on health checks when entering Scotland.


If you develop Covid-19 symptoms while on holiday in Scotland, please self-isolate in your accommodation and follow the advice from the Scottish Government.


Many businesses such as shops and restaurants currently prefer you to use contact free payments for hygiene reasons and some may be following a "contactless payment only" policy. Please check that your debit/credit card is accepted in the UK before your trip begins.


Car rental companies are following government advice and have increased their health and safety measures. Check before you travel with individual companies for information on any additional measures they are taking.

Our airports have car rental facilities close to their arrival halls. Make sure to check before you travel if car rentals are open and book your car in advance.

Public transport capacity will be limited due to physical distancing requirements. The use of taxis or private pick-ups are recommended.

Please remember to wear your mask when using public transport.

You can find more specific information on travelling to Scotland, and travelling around Scotland.


  • We've got a handy download to guide you on how to enjoy Scotland responsibly over the new few months - check out our helpful reminders to protect yourself and others, and plan ahead.
  • As we start to venture out again, here are five easy ways you can support Scotland's fantastic tourism industry with our take five for tourism PDF.
  • Watch our Guide to Safe Travels in Scotland video to see how businesses and providers have been working hard to keep you safe.

What to expect when you visit Scotland just now

There are a few things to remember when you're visiting Scotland at the moment. We know that travelling is a bit tricky now for many of us, but we still want to help you plan your future trips and days out in Scotland. Find out more about:

Visiting cafés, restaurants and bars

The current restrictions on eating and drinking out vary depending on what level that local area is in (see above for Scotland's level system).

Some general advice to remember: 

  • Please wear a face covering when walking around inside a bar, café or restaurant.  You can take it off when sat at the table.
  • Please book your table in advance where possible. You can book directly with the business or see if they are listed on booking websites, such as ResDiary or OpenTable.
  • If you need to cancel a booking, please do so as far in advance as possible. Always let the business know if you can't make it so they can make your table available for someone else.
  • Lots of amazing food and drink businesses are offering delivery and collection, especially in our cities. Check out places you can buy quality local food and drink

Visiting our cities

Like the rest of the world, you'll notice that our cities are a little quieter than usual. With less visitors around, you can enjoy peaceful streets and even have them to yourself. Perfect for photography moments!

Look out for amazing deals on hotels and accommodation. Be prepared for some attractions to be closed, and there will be restrictions on eating and drinking out depending on what city you are visiting.

Visiting our attractions

Our attractions have made a few changes in the last few months to make sure you can visit safely.
Some general tips for visiting just now:

  • Book in advance where possible
  • Always remember a face covering and use hand sanitiser frequently
  • Stay at least 2 metres away from others
  • Take your litter home with you for disposal

Read the latest COVID-19 guidance from our partners: