Coronavirus - what it means for you
We'll update our advice to help you understand any changes when they apply to you.
On this page:
- Health advice
- If you've been shielding
- Local support if you can't leave your home
- Protection levels and meeting people
- Check if you need to cover your face
- Watching out for coronavirus scams
- If you have less money because of coronavirus
- Going to work
- Schools and childcare
- If you're at college or university
- If you're planning to travel abroad
- If you think shops are acting unfairly or not following physical distancing rules
- Advice for businesses
Coronavirus causes the illness called COVID-19. There are things you can do to avoid getting coronavirus and stop it spreading. Read the latest advice about symptoms, social distancing and testing on NHS inform.
If you have symptoms of COVID-19
If you have symptoms of COVID-19, you should self-isolate for ten days from the day your symptoms started and book a test. You can book a test online on NHS inform or by calling the free NHS inform helpline on 0800 028 2816. You and your household should self-isolate while you wait for your test and the result.
If you test positive for COVID-19, a contact-tracing team will be in touch to ask for details of anyone you’ve had close contact with. This is called contact tracing. Your close contacts and everyone in your household will be asked to self-isolate for 14 days from the last day they had contact with you. Check the contact tracing guidance on NHS inform.
There's also specific advice for:
- unpaid carers - check the Scottish government advice for unpaid carers
- older people - check Age Scotland's advice or phone their helpline on 0800 12 44 222, Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm.
If you don't have symptoms of COVID-19 but want general information, phone the free NHS inform helpline on 0800 028 2816. The helpline is open every day from 8am to 10pm.
Overseas visitors to Scotland don't have to pay to be diagnosed or treated for coronavirus on the NHS, whatever their residence status. Read about healthcare for overseas visitors on NHS inform.
Caring for your mental health
It’s important to take care of your mental health, and support is available to help you. Get information on supporting your mental well-being on NHS inform.
The Clear your head website has ideas and resources to support your mental well-being.
If you’re experiencing a mental health crisis and you already get help from your GP, phone your GP or care team first. If you can’t talk to them, call 111 to speak to NHS 24.
You can follow the same rules as others in your local council area.
The Scottish government has published guidance about shielding in different protection levels. This is advice and you can make decisions about what is right for you.
You can find shielding guidance on mygov.scot.
If you can't leave your home, for example because you're self-isolating, you can call the Scottish government's national assistance helpline on 0800 111 4000, Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm.
The helpline will connect you with your local council for support getting food and medicine, social work services, emotional support and support from local volunteer groups.
The helpline is for anyone who doesn't have help from family, friends or neighbours and who can't access help online.
If you've been asked to self-isolate by the Test and Protect service, you might be able to get help from your local self-isolation assistance service. Contact tracers will ask if you want your local council to phone you to see if you need help while you’re self-isolating. This might be getting food or medicine or help applying for a self-isolation grant.
The local self-isolation assistance service is for people who are at higher risk, like people who are on the shielding list, over 70 years old, disabled or on low incomes.
The Scottish government has introduced five levels of protection for Scotland: levels 0, 1, 2, 3 and 4.
The rules you have to follow depend on the protection level in your local council area. You can check your local area's level using the Scottish government postcode checker.
Some of the rules for meeting others are different for children and young people.
Find out more about the rules for meeting people and extended households.
The police have powers to enforce these rules, including breaking up large gatherings or fining people.
The rules in other parts of the UK might be different, so you should follow the rules for the part of the UK you're in.
If you need to self-isolate because you or someone in your household has symptoms of COVID-19, or you're a contact of someone who has tested positive, you must stay at home. Check the Scottish government guidance on how to self-isolate.
If your partner or family member makes you feel anxious or threatened
By law, most people in Scotland aged five or over must wear a face covering in most indoor public places, including:
- shops and services - including takeaways, estate agents, beauty parlours, banks, post offices, cinemas, community centres and libraries
- restaurants and cafés - when you're entering, leaving or going to the toilet
- leisure centres - including fitness studios, gyms, swimming pools and skating rinks
- public transport - like buses, trains, subways, trams and planes as well as taxis and private-hire vehicles
- transport buildings - bus stations, railways stations, airports and ferry terminals
- ferries - unless it's completely outdoors or you can stay two metres away from other people
- places of worship - including churches and mosques
- tourist attractions - like aquariums, indoor zoos, museums and galleries
- crematoriums - and funeral directors' premises.
You must wear a face covering in indoor communal areas in workplaces, like canteens or corridors.
Pupils and adults might need to wear a face covering in school and on school transport. Check the rules on wearing a face covering in school.
Check the Scottish government guidance on face coverings for a full list of indoor places where you must wear a face covering.
When you don't need a face covering
Some people don't have to wear a face covering, like police officers or paramedics on duty and drivers who sit behind screens.
If you don't wear a face covering when you should, the police can fine you. But you might have a reasonable excuse not to cover your face, for example if:
- a health condition or disability means that wearing a face covering would cause you difficulty, pain or severe distress or anxiety
- you need to eat, drink or take medication
- you need to communicate with someone who lip-reads
- you’re exercising, for example in a gym
- a police officer asks you to remove it.
You should explain your reason for not wearing a face covering. The police will decide whether this is reasonable.
You can get an exemption card if you’re disabled or have a health condition that means you can’t wear a face covering. You don’t need to have a card, but you can get one if it would make you feel more comfortable or confident. Get a card by filling in the Disability Equality Scotland online form or call the free helpline on 0800 121 6240.
What to cover your face with
Your face covering needs to cover both your nose and mouth. It could be something like a scarf or a cloth mask you've made yourself. Religious face coverings that cover your mouth and nose count too.
You don't have to wear a surgical or medical mask like those used by doctors and nurses.
After wearing a face covering, you'll need to wash it at 60 degrees or put it in the bin.
To avoid coronavirus scams, you should:
- only use trusted information about coronavirus - like NHS inform
- be wary of emails, social media messages or texts about coronavirus, especially from people you don't know
- avoid clicking on links to buy products or donate money if you're not sure it's safe
- not give money or personal details to anyone you don’t know and trust – for example, if someone knocks on your door and offers to help
- be wary of contact tracing calls and texts. Check NHS inform’s contact tracing guidance to find out more, including how they’ll contact you and what information you’ll be asked to give.
If you have less money because of coronavirus, help is available. You might be able to:
- increase your income - for example, by claiming benefits
- reduce your bills - for example, by getting a council tax reduction.
You might be able to claim benefits like Universal Credit, or get more money if you’re already getting benefits. This includes any Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) your employer might give you.
It’s important to apply as soon as you can. Don’t be put off by longer wait times.
If you’re already getting benefits, check if the government has made changes to your benefits.
Help with bills like rent and council tax
You might have less money to pay your rent, mortgage, energy bills, council tax or court fines. You can check what help you can get if you're struggling to pay your bills or are worried about being evicted.
If you can't pay your council tax
If you can't pay your council tax, check with your council if they can be flexible about your payments because of coronavirus. Find your local council on mygov.scot.
If your property has been left unoccupied by people who were already exempt, for example students, because of coronavirus, you could get an exemption. Check with your local council.
You might be eligible for a council tax reduction if your income has dropped or if you started claiming benefits recently. Use our check my council tax tool to see if you can reduce your bill.
If you need help with food and energy
If you need urgent help to pay for essentials like food, gas or electricity, you can apply to your local council for a crisis grant from the Scottish Welfare Fund.
The council will check your eligibility. You can apply even if you've had crisis grants before. Check our advice on applying for a crisis grant.
When you're ready to apply, find your local council on mygov.scot.
You can also check our advice about foodbanks and other emergency help.
The Scottish government has said you should only go to work if it’s not possible for you to work from home.
If you're a key worker, check NHS inform advice for key workers.
Being furloughed if you can’t work
If your work has shut down or there’s no work because of coronavirus, your employer might use the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme to pay you. This is known as being 'furloughed'.
Find out what benefits you can get if you're self-isolating.
If you've been off work because you were shielding
Scottish government guidance says you can go back to work if you can’t work from home and your workplace is safe enough.
You might still be able to get SSP if you can’t work from home and it’s not safe for you to go to work. You’ll need a fit note from your doctor to give to your employer.
If you're worried about going to work because of coronavirus
If you're worried about having to go to work, there are things your employer should do to make sure you’re safe.
Before you return to work, your employer must carry out a risk assessment and make sure measures are in place to reduce the risk of coronavirus.
You and your employer can use the Scottish government’s risk assessment guidance and tool to start a discussion about what your risk from coronavirus might be. This will help you understand the risk to you based on your age, gender, ethnicity, weight and any underlying health conditions.
You don’t have to use the guidance and tool, and it doesn’t replace an assessment from a doctor or occupational health specialist.
If you decide not to work, there might be ways to keep getting paid.
If you're worried about working and you’re pregnant or disabled, there might be other things your employer has to do.
Check what to do if you’re worried about working.
You might be eligible for support from the UK government's Self-Employment Income Support Scheme. Check if you're eligible for self-employed support.
If you need to look after your children or someone else
You might be able to get paid time off work, or your employer might make changes so you can do your job flexibly. Check your options if you need to change how you work to care for someone.
Schools in Scotland are open and pupils should be at school full time.
All types of childcare, including nurseries and childminders, can reopen. Check arrangements with your childcare provider.
There’s information about schools and nurseries on Parent club.
Unless you're exempt, face coverings should be worn:
- in primary schools – by adults moving around the school, for example in corridors and common areas
- in secondary schools - by adults and all pupils moving around the school, for example in corridors and common areas
- on school transport - by all children aged five or over travelling to and from primary or secondary school
- by parents, carers and visitors – when on school grounds, indoors and outdoors. This includes when you’re dropping-off or picking-up your child.
In secondary schools in level 3 or 4, pupils in S4-S6 and their teachers should wear a face covering in class. Other pupils don’t have to wear a face covering in class, but you can if you want to.
If you or your child has symptoms of COVID-19
If you or your child has symptoms of coronavirus, you should book a test straight away and self-isolate. This means you shouldn't send your child to school or nursery.
If the test result is negative, your household can stop self-isolating. Anyone with a positive test result should self-isolate for ten days, and others in the household should self-isolate for 14 days. Check the self-isolation guidance on NHS inform.
If someone at school tests positive for COVID-19
If your child is a close contact of someone at school who has tested positive for coronavirus, they might have to self-isolate for 14 days. A local Test and Protect team will tell you if your child needs to self-isolate.
Check your local council website for information on what will happen if there’s a confirmed case of COVID-19 in school. Find your local council on mygov.scot.
If you need to take time off to look after your children, speak to your employer. Read more about taking time off to look after children.
Each college and university is responsible for making decisions about its higher education courses and exams. Check their website for information for students.
Check Student Information Scotland’s coronavirus update for information on how coronavirus affects students, including student accommodation and hardship payments.
You should check if:
- the country is on the list of places that are not a high risk to travellers. The list might change at short notice, including while you’re abroad. Read the latest travel guidance on GOV.UK
- you need to self-isolate when you get back to the UK. Check the rules on entering the UK from abroad
- your travel insurance covers medical and travel problems caused by coronavirus.
If you travel to a country that the UK government considers a high risk, your insurance policy might not be valid.
Going on holiday without valid travel insurance is a big risk. For example, you might have to pay all of your medical costs if you get ill or have an accident. If you need to buy travel insurance or make a claim, check our advice about travel insurance.
Rules on travel
From 6pm on Friday 20 November until Friday 11 December, it's against the law to travel between Scotland and another part of the UK or Ireland, except for an essential purpose.
If you've booked a holiday
Check what your travel agent, airline or accommodation provider says about your booking.
If your booking is cancelled because of coronavirus, contact the company you booked with. You have the right to a refund, or you can choose to rebook the holiday for another time.
You can also find out what to do if your package holiday is cancelled.
If you need more help, you can get advice from your local Citizens Advice Bureau.
If your visa is ending and you can't leave the UK
If your visa expires at any time from 24 January to 31 August 2020, the Home Office will continue to let you stay until 31 August.
Contact the Home Office if you can't leave by 31 August, for example because:
- you have a medical condition which makes you extremely vulnerable to coronavirus – check if you’re extremely vulnerable on NHS inform
- the country you need to go to won't let you in because of coronavirus
- you can't arrange travel in time.
You should contact the Home Office using the contact details on GOV.UK. You'll need to show evidence of why you can't leave in time.
If you think shops are acting unfairly or not following physical distancing rules
If you’re worried a business isn’t being fair with their prices or is acting illegally, you can report them to Trading Standards. Trading Standards might not reply to your complaint.
If a business is open when it shouldn't be, or isn't following physical distancing rules, you can report it to your local council. Find your local council on mygov.scot.
Check which businesses should be closed on the Scottish government's website.
There are extra rules for bars, restaurants and cafés. Check the hospitality rules for each protection level on the Scottish government website.
Some businesses and premises in Scotland have started to reopen. You can find more information about workplaces and other premises on the Scottish government website.
Advice for employers and employees affected by coronavirus is available on the Acas website.
Financial support for businesses and self-employed people
There are details of financial support for businesses from the UK government on GOV.UK.
You can check the Find Business Support website for the latest updates from the Scottish government.
You can also call the Scottish government helpline on 0300 303 0660. The helpline is open Monday to Friday, 8.30am to 5.30pm.
If you're self-employed
You might be able to get financial help if you're self-employed.
If you applied for any of the following Scottish government funds, you can check the status of your application by contacting Find Business Support:
- the Newly Self-Employed Hardship Fund
- the Pivotal Enterprise Resilience Fund
- the Creative, Tourism and Hospitality Enterprises Hardship Fund.
These schemes are now closed for new applications.