Coronavirus - what it means for you
The Scottish government plans to relax the lockdown rules in phases. Scotland is in phase three. We'll update our advice to help you understand any changes when they apply to you.
On this page:
- Health advice
- If you’re in an area with a local lockdown
- If you've been shielding
- Local support if you can't leave your home
- Rules on staying safe and meeting others
- 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're entering Scotland from 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.
Getting help for other medical conditions
If you need medical care for other conditions or symptoms, you should:
- phone your GP practice, or 111 out of hours
- go to A&E for urgent help
- phone 999 in an emergency
- ask a pharmacist about treating minor ailments
- get dental care - phone your dentist for advice
- get eye care - contact your local optician. Find a local optician on NHS inform
- take children for vaccinations
- check Scottish government guidance for people living with certain medical conditions like cancer, diabetes and other chronic illnesses.
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.
You might need to follow stricter rules if more people test positive for coronavirus in your local area. This is called a local lockdown.
From 5 August there’s a local lockdown in the Aberdeen City council area. Check the Scottish government's local advice for information on travel restrictions, meeting others and hospitality.
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 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.
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, and in areas with a local lockdown.
You can find out more about meeting people and sharing childcare.
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 some indoor public places, including:
- public transport - like buses, trains, subways, trams and planes
- taxis and private hire vehicles
- ferries - unless it's completely outdoors or you can stay two metres away from other people
- bus stations, railways stations, airports and ferry terminals
- shops, takeaways, estate agents and beauty parlours
- banks, post offices, cinemas
- churches, mosques and other places of worship
- aquariums, indoor zoos or visitor farms, and any other indoor tourist places
- community centres, libraries
- museums and galleries
- crematoriums and funeral directors' premises.
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
- 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
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.
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.
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.
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're self-isolating because:
- you have coronavirus or symptoms of coronavirus
- someone you live with has coronavirus or symptoms of coronavirus
- you've been told by the NHS that you've come into contact with someone who has coronavirus.
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.
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.
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 in Scotland reopened on 11 August. 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.
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.
Free school meals
There's information about free school meals on mygov.scot.
Some students had their estimated grades lowered by the SQA.
If your grades were lowered by the SQA, you’ll get new grades based on estimates from your teachers. You can read more about exam results and appeals on the SQA website
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.