Our path out of COVID-19 lockdown: what you need to know

The Scottish Government’s route map for easing the COVID-19 lockdown restrictions sets out four phases for moving out of lockdown, with progress assessed every three weeks.

The phases are gradual and based on careful monitoring of the virus, guided by scientific advice. At times, we may have to hit the brakes on easing but we may also be able to speed up the easing of restrictions if sufficient progress is made.

The current advice remains to stay at home except for essential purposes, such as essential work that can’t be done from home, exercise, and buying essential supplies such as food and medicine – but if suppression of the virus continues to work, we will enter the first phase on 28 May.

Here’s what you need to know.

Phase 1

The first phase will enable meeting up with members of another household outdoors, with physical distancing measures in place, as well as the re-opening of garden centres, drive-through food outlets, and household recycling sites.

It will also allow more outdoor activity – such as sitting in parks – and outdoor sports such as fishing, hiking and golf. Travelling short distances (broadly within 5 miles) for outdoor leisure and exercise will also be permitted in Phase 1.

School staff will begin returning to schools to make necessary preparations and adjustments for the new school year beginning from August 11, and where possible, transition support will be available to pupils starting P1 and S1. An increased number of children will be able to access critical childcare, with the resumption of child-minding services and outdoor nursery provision.

What’s more, Phase 1 will see safe restarting of some NHS services – covering primary services including mental health, a resumption of some GP services coupled with an increase in digital consultations, as well as a gradual restarting of urgent elective treatments.

Read the full Scottish Government document here for further details.

Phase 2

If we continue to make progress in suppressing the virus, Phase 2 may be able to come into place towards the end of June.

It will enable meeting with members of another household indoors, as well as with larger groups – including family and friends – outdoors, both with physical distancing measures required.

Public transport will operate with increased services, but with limited capacity to enable physical distancing, and with travel at peak times discouraged as much as possible.

Working from home will remain the default position for those who can, while non-essential, non-office-based indoor workplaces, such as factories, warehouses and research facilities, will begin to reopen – once the relevant guidance is agreed and where physical distancing and improved hygiene measures are in place.

Small retail units and outdoor markets will be able to reopen, while pubs and restaurants will operate in outdoor spaces with improved hygiene routines and physical distancing in place.

The NHS will continue to re-introduce some chronic disease management, with more prioritised referrals to secondary care and all dental practices opening for those with urgent care needs.

Read the full Scottish Government document here for further details.

Phase 3

As we continue to suppress the virus and reduce the transmission, this phase will see further gradual easing of restrictions – which will allow meeting with people from more than one household indoors, public transport resuming to normal timetables, and the resumption of gatherings of extended groups outdoors – all with physical distancing measures in place.

This phase will also begin the gradual re-opening – with physical distancing restrictions remaining crucial – of retail units, pubs, restaurants and services such as hairdressers, as well as sport, leisure and culture facilities such as museums, libraries, cinemas and gyms. Restrictions on accommodation providers in the tourism sector will also be relaxed.

Pupils will see the returning to school, with physical distancing measures in place, under a blended model of in-school teaching and in-home learning, while universities and colleges will begin a phased return with more remote learning options encouraged.

For those who can do so, remote working will remain the default position, while non-essential indoor office workplaces will begin to open with enhanced safety measures and physical distancing.

Read the full Scottish Government document here for further details.

Phase 4

In the final phase of easing the COVID-19 restrictions, more restrictions on gatherings will be lifted, with mass gatherings and all ceremonies resuming in line with public health guidance. However, where necessary, forms of physical distancing may still be required.

Public services and sporting, tourism, leisure and cultural facilities will be expected to operate fully, although with modifications and changes to service design and with improved hygiene measures.

Schools, childcare, colleges and university campuses will return to full operation with necessary precautions.

In Phase 4, all workplaces will open in line with public health advice, although where possible, remote and flexible working will be encouraged.

Read the full Scottish Government document here for further details.