Skip to navigation Skip to content Skip to footer

Coronavirus - what it means for you

This advice applies to Scotland

The Scottish government plans to relax the lockdown rules in phases. Scotland is now in phase three. We'll update our advice to help you understand any changes when they apply to you.

On this page:

Health advice

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:

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.

You can also get advice in British Sign Language and Easy Read format.

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.

Getting help for other medical conditions

If you need medical care for other conditions or symptoms, you should:

Find your nearest A&E or pharmacy on NHS inform. 

If you have any coronavirus symptoms on top of your medical concerns, phone your GP or 111 for advice first. If it's an emergency, phone 999 and tell the call handler about the coronavirus symptoms. 

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.

If you've been shielding

NHS Scotland might have contacted you about taking extra steps to protect yourself because you’re extremely vulnerable due to a medical condition. This is called 'shielding'.

The Scottish government has paused shielding from 1 August. This means you can follow the same rules as others in Scotland from 1 August.

If you’ve been shielding, you can find support on the Scottish government website.

Local support if you can't leave your home 

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. For example, you might be aged over 70, be disabled, get mental health support, be pregnant or get a flu jab for health reasons.

Rules on staying safe and meeting others

Scotland is in phase three of the government's route map for relaxing the lockdown rules. 

Different rules are changing at different times. You can read the rules on staying safe and protecting others on the Scottish government website. There's also information about what you can and can't do during phase three, including on going to beer gardens and restaurants.

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

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 should stay at home. Check the Scottish government guidance on how to self-isolate.

Meeting other people

You can meet people from:

  • two other households indoors, up to a maximum of eight people
  • four other households outdoors, up to a maximum of 15 people.

Different households should stay two metres apart, whether you're meeting inside or outside. Couples who don't live together don't have to stay two metres apart from each other.

You should only meet people from up to four other households a day. You can meet them at the same time or at different times on the same day. It doesn't have to be the same households each time.  

If you go inside someone else's house, you should wash your hands and clean any surfaces that you touch. You can stay overnight as long as different households stay two metres apart.

If you’ve been shielding, you can follow the same rules about meeting people as others in Scotland from 1 August. 

Some of the rules for meeting others are different for children and young people.

You can find out more about meeting people and sharing childcare.

If your partner or family member makes you feel anxious or threatened

You can still get help during this time. You can call Scotland’s Domestic Abuse Helpline on 0800 027 1234 or check the Safer.Scot website.

Covering your face on public transport and in shops

By law, most people aged five or over must wear a face covering when:

  • on public transport - like buses, trains, subways, trams and planes
  • in taxis and private hire vehicles
  • on ferries - unless it's completely outdoors or you can stay two metres away from other people
  • in transport buildings - like bus stations, railways stations, airports and ferry terminals
  • in shops - unless you're exempt.

You don't have to cover your face in your own vehicle unless you want to. 

Some people don't have to wear a face covering, like police officers or paramedics on duty and drivers who sit behind screens. They might wear a face covering anyway. 

Children under five shouldn't wear a face covering. 

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
  • 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. 

What to cover your face with

You'll need to take your own face covering with you when you travel. It needs to cover both your nose and your 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. Use a new or clean one each time you travel. 

Before you travel

Before you travel, check the Scottish government guidance on face coverings and the website for the service you're going to use, like Scotrail or the bus company.

There's also advice for safe travel from Transport Scotland. 

Watch out for coronavirus scams

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.

Read our advice about common scams and how to check if something is a scam.

If you have less money because of coronavirus

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.

Getting benefits

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. 

Check what benefits you can get.

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

Going to work 

The Scottish government has said you should only go to work if it’s not possible for you to work from home.

Indoor non-office workplaces can reopen if guidance on physical distancing and other hygiene measures is in place. This includes places like factories, warehouses and labs.

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’.

You can now only be furloughed if either:

  • you were already furloughed for at least three weeks before 1 July 2020

  • you’re returning from maternity leave, adoption leave, paternity leave, shared parental leave or parental bereavement leave.

If you’re returning from one of these types of leave, your employer must also have used the scheme to furlough other employees before 1 July 2020.

Find out how the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme works.

If you're off work because you're self-isolating 

You might be able to get Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) if you're following government guidance to self-isolate. Check the Scottish government guidance on self-isolation.

You could get SSP if:

  • you have coronavirus or symptoms of coronavirus
  • someone you live with has coronavirus or symptoms of coronavirus
  • you're self-isolating because you've been told by the NHS that you've come into contact with someone who has coronavirus.

Find out more about getting Statutory Sick Pay

If you've been off work because you were shielding 

Scottish government guidance says you can go back to work from 1 August if you can’t work from home and your workplace is safe enough. 

From 1 August, you might still be able to get statutory sick pay (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.

Check if you can get statutory sick pay (SSP).

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. 

Your employer can also use the Scottish government’s risk assessment guidance and tool to check the risk to individual workers. This will help you understand the risk to you based on your age, gender, ethnicity, weight and any underlying health conditions.

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.

If you're self-employed and need financial support

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.

If you’re a key worker or your child is vulnerable, you might be able to get childcare from a local hub or a childminder.

Schools and childcare

Schools in Scotland will reopen on 11 August if it’s safe to do so. Some schools will have a phased return for pupils at first. All pupils should be at school full time from 18 August. 

Check your council website for information on back-to-school arrangements and support for children starting or leaving school. The school might also contact you directly. 

Find your local council on mygov.scot

Check the Scottish Qualifications Authority website for updates on exams and results. 

All types of childcare, including nurseries and childminders, can reopen. Check arrangements with your childcare provider.

There’s information about schools and nurseries reopening on Parent club.

Childcare hubs for key workers and vulnerable children 

Local councils have made special arrangements for childcare if:

  • you’re a key worker - your job keeps an important service running, like the NHS or police
  • your child is considered vulnerable - for example, if they get free school meals or have additional support needs.

Many areas have learning and childcare hubs for children to go to. Check for changes to childcare hubs before schools reopen. 

There's more detail about who's a key worker on the Scottish government website.

You might not qualify for special childcare arrangements if you're a key worker but your child's other parent isn't.

Free school meals

There's information about free school meals on mygov.scot. 

If you're at college or university

Each college and university is responsible for making decisions about its higher education courses and exams. Check their website for information for students.

For further and higher education, check Student Information Scotland’s coronavirus update and information on hardship payments for students.

If you're planning to travel abroad

The UK government has removed the ban on non-essential travel to some countries. The government has decided that these countries no longer pose a high risk to travellers. The list of countries that you can travel to might change at short notice, including while you're abroad 

You should check if:

  • the country you're visiting is on the list of places that are not a high risk to travellers.  You can read the latest travel guidance on GOV.UK
  • your travel insurance covers medical and travel problems caused by coronavirus
  • you need to self-isolate when you get back to the UK. 

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.

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 find out more about getting a refund because of coronavirus.

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

You should contact the Home Office if all of the following apply:

  • your visa is ending soon
  • you’re planning to leave the UK at the end of your visa
  • either the government has told you to self-isolate or the country you need to go to won’t let you in because of coronavirus.

If your visa expires at any time from 24 January to 31 August 2020, the Home Office will extend your visa until 31 August. You should tell the Home Office using the online form on GOV.UK.

If your visa expires after 31 August, the Home Office will decide whether to extend your visa. You should tell the Home Office using the contact details on GOV.UK.

If you're entering Scotland from abroad

There are rules if you're planning to arrive in Scotland from abroad. This includes if you're coming back after a holiday. If your final destination is Scotland, you must follow the rules that apply in Scotland, even if you fly into another part of the UK.

Before you arrive, you must fill in a form with details of where you're staying in Scotland.

After you arrive, you might also have to stay inside for 14 days at the address you put on the form. This is called 'self-isolating' or 'quarantine'.

You must self-isolate unless you've been to a country that is exempt. Check which countries are exempt on the Scottish government website. You'll still have to fill in the form.

The list of countries you can go to without self-isolating when you get back to Scotland might change at short notice, including while you’re abroad.

You don't need to fill in the form or self-isolate if you're coming to Scotland from another part of the UK, Ireland, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man, unless you travelled somewhere else in the last 14 days.

Some people don't have to follow these rules. Check if you're exempt on the Scottish government website.

Filling in the form

Before you travel to Scotland, you must fill in the passenger locator form on GOV.UK with details of the address where you'll be staying. You can fill in the form 48 hours before you arrive in Scotland.

When you complete the form, you'll get a confirmation to print or show on your phone. You'll need to show the confirmation to immigration officials when you arrive in Scotland. If you haven't filled in the form before you arrive, there'll be computers you can use to do so when you arrive.

If you don't fill in the form, you might get a £60 fine. If you're not a British or Irish citizen, you might not be allowed into the UK.

Self-isolating when you arrive in Scotland

If you have to self-isolate, you must stay inside for 14 days at the address you put on the form. You must do this even if you're not ill. If you work, you'll need to ask your employer if you can work from home, take extra holiday time or take unpaid leave.

You can only leave the place where you're staying for certain reasons, including:

  • getting basic things like food, medicine or pet supplies - if you can’t get them delivered
  • getting medical help - if it's urgent or your doctor has told you to get help
  • going to the funeral of someone in your household, a close relative or a friend if no one else is going
  • if there's an emergency - for example, if it's not safe to stay inside
  • leaving Scotland - as long as you leave directly
  • using public services like social services - if these services are critical for your well-being and can't be provided where you're staying
  • for legal reasons, including attending court or for bail conditions.

You must not meet anyone except the people you're staying with.

You're not allowed to change the place where you're self-isolating except in very limited circumstances. For example, if you need to move to escape domestic abuse. If you do need to move, you must fill in a new passenger locator form on GOV.UK.

If you're staying in Scotland and you don't follow these rules, you might get a £480 fine. If you keep breaking the rules, you could be convicted and given a £5,000 fine.

You can check the Scottish government guidance on self-isolating for people entering Scotland. 

If you're self-isolating after arriving in the UK from abroad, you can't get Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) and you don't have an automatic right to time off work. But you can get SSP if, while you're self-isolating:

  • you develop coronavirus symptoms
  • the NHS tells you that you've been in contact with someone with coronavirus.

Check if you can get benefits while you’re self-isolating.

If you think shops are acting unfairly or not following physical distancing rules

Shops and businesses can put up their prices if they want to. If you’ve noticed that things cost more than usual, you’ll need to decide if you want to pay for the item or not. 

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. 

Check which businesses should be closed on the Scottish government's website. 

Find your local council on mygov.scot. 

Advice for businesses

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.

Check if you can claim back statutory sick pay

If you're an employer with fewer than 250 employees, you might be able to reclaim coronavirus-related Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) from the UK government.

Find out if you can use the Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme on the GOV.UK website.

If rent for a business hasn’t been paid

If rent hasn’t been paid on a commercial lease, the notice period required before the lease can be ended has been extended from 14 days to 14 weeks.

The landlord must give the tenant written notice and 14 weeks to pay the arrears.

The change applies to all commercial property leases. This includes cases where a warning notice has already been issued but hasn’t expired.

Did this advice help?
Why wasn't this advice helpful?

Please tell us more about why our advice didn't help.

Did this advice help?

Thank you, your feedback has been submitted.