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Coronavirus - meeting people

This advice applies to Scotland

Scotland is in phase three of the government's route map for relaxing the lockdown rules. We'll update our advice to help you understand any changes when they apply to you.

The police have powers to enforce these rules, including breaking up large gatherings or fining people.

Some types of gathering are exempt. For example, helping someone to move house, providing care, being in a place of worship, or for work or volunteering. Check which gatherings and occasions are allowed on the Scottish government website

The rules in other parts of the UK might be different. You should follow the rules for the part of the UK you're in.

If you're in an area with local restrictions

You might need to follow stricter rules if more people test positive for coronavirus in your local area. This might be called a ‘local lockdown’.

The Scottish government will announce which areas have local restrictions. You can check which areas have local restrictions on the Scottish government website

Meeting other households

It’s against the law to meet socially with more than six people, or with people from more than two households. This applies outdoors, like in a private garden or a park, or in indoor public places like restaurants, pubs or cafés. 

By law, you must not go inside other people's homes, and other people must not go inside your home. There are some exceptions. 

 You can still visit inside someone's home if:

  • your two households form an extended household, sometimes called a 'social bubble'
  • you're in a couple who don't live together
  • you're providing informal childcare, for example looking after your grandchildren
  • you're a tradesperson who needs to carry out work.

The Scottish government also advises that:

  • you limit the number of households you meet in a day
  • you avoid sharing a car with people from another household. If you need to share a car, you can check the advice on car sharing from Transport Scotland
  • different households stay two metres apart, whether you’re meeting outside or in an indoor public space. Couples who don’t live together don’t have to stay two metres apart from each other.

Some places, like cafés and bars, might be a one-metre zone. There will be signs up to tell you if you’re in a one-metre area. This means you should stay at least one metre apart from people who aren’t in your household, even if you’re socialising with them. There should be other measures in place to keep you safe, like hand sanitiser stations.

Some of the rules for meeting others are different for children, young people and students living away from home.

Children under 12

Children under 12 don't count towards the limit of six people. Outdoors, children under 12 also don't count towards the limit of two households. So there are no limits on the number of children under 12 who can play together outside.

Children under 12 don't have to stay two metres away from other people.

If you're 12 to 17

In an indoor public space, you can meet in groups of up to six people from a total of two households (including your own). Outdoors, you can meet in groups of up to six people from any number of households.

You should stay two metres away from people who aren't in your household.

Check the Young Scot website for information for young people.

If you're a student living away from home

The Scottish government has said that students living away from home should stay in their student accommodation and not visit family at home if possible.

Otherwise the rules about meeting people are the same for students as for other adults. You should also follow any local restrictions that are in place.

Read the guidance for students living away from home on the Scottish government website

If you've been shielding

The Scottish government has paused shielding from 1 August. You can follow the same guidance for meeting people as others in Scotland.

If you live in an area with local restrictions you don’t need to shield again. You should strictly follow physical distancing and hygiene measures.

You can find support if you were shielding on the Scottish government website.

Travelling to meet others

You must follow the rules on meeting other households, but there are no legal restrictions on travelling in Scotland. If you live in the Central Belt, you should avoid travelling out of your local area.

The Scottish government also advises that you should avoid travelling to areas in the UK that have restrictions in place. If you do travel, check the local rules for the area first.

You can check which areas in Scotland and other parts of the UK have local restrictions on the Scottish government website.

Going to Wales 

If you live in an area with local restrictions, it’s usually against the law to go to Wales.

There are local restrictions in the Central Belt of Scotland until 2 November. This means you shouldn’t normally travel from the Central Belt of Scotland to Wales.

You can check the list of affected areas in the Central Belt on the Scottish government website.

You can still travel to Wales for some reasons, for example:

  • for work or volunteering
  • for education or childcare
  • to go to a wedding, civil partnership or funeral
  • to avoid someone being harmed or help someone in an emergency
  • to move house – including making arrangements to move house.

If your client needs to go to Wales

You can check the full list of reasons for which your client can go to Wales in regulation 14D of the Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (No.2) (Wales) Regulations 2020 on the Welsh government website.

Forming an extended household group 

Your household can choose to join one other household and form an 'extended household group'. This might also be called a 'social bubble' or 'support bubble'.

You can only be in one extended household group, and you can’t change the household you’re in a group with. You should think carefully before you decide to form an extended household group.

Scottish government guidance says that only some people should form an extended household. The guidance says that you can form an extended household if you live alone or you‘re the only adult living with children aged under 18.

Also if you’re in a relationship but don’t live with your partner, you can form an extended household with your partner. 

You can treat people in your extended household group as part of your household, and you count as one household. For example, you: 

  • can meet inside each other’s homes 
  • can stay overnight, have meals together and watch each other’s children
  • don’t need to stay two metres apart.

If you have coronavirus symptoms, you should book a test and all members of the group should self-isolate. Check NHS inform’s guidance for households with possible coronavirus infection.

If you share childcare between different houses

If you live in a different home from your child’s other parent, you can continue to share childcare. The government has said children under 18 can move between their parents’ homes. 

It’s important to think about your child’s health, how they feel about moving between households and whether there are vulnerable members of either household.

If there’s a court order or formal agreement in place, you should try to stick to those arrangements. If you decide it’s best to change the agreement, you can do this. Write down any change you agree, for example in a note, email or text.

If you have an informal arrangement, you should discuss what to do with your child’s other parent.

It might not be safe to maintain in-person contact if one household has symptoms and all the members of the household need to self-isolate. You could use phone or video call instead.

Read more about coronavirus and your family on Parent Club.

Sharing childcare and forming an extended household group 

If you’re a single parent and you don’t live with other adults, you can form an extended household group with one other household.

You and your child’s other parent can each form an extended household group separately. Your child can be part of both extended household groups as long as they’re under 18.

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