Scotland’s path out of lockdown: Phase 3 and what it means for you

Together, we’ve made substantial progress in suppressing the virus – which was made possible by the collective efforts and sacrifices we’ve all been making.

With the consistent reduction in deaths, hospitalisations and transmission rates, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has announced that Scotland has now moved to Phase 3 of the Scottish Government’s route map out of lockdown.

Here’s all you need to know about Phase 3, what the new rules are, and what it means for you.

NOTE: This page is a general summary, and is updated when significant changes come into force – but for the most recent advice and guidance, head to the Scottish Government website.

The graphic guide above summarises the next dates for gradual re-opening in Phase 3.

You can only meet with six people from maximum two households at a time

When meeting people outside your household for a social gathering, you may meet people socially from no more than one other household at a time indoors or outdoors – with a maximum limit of six people.

You should stay at least two metres apart from people from other households at all times.

This limit applies if, for example, meeting others at home, in an outdoor space including a garden or park, or in a pub, restaurant or café. See the guidance on meeting others in a pub, restaurant, café or other indoor hospitality venue.

Gyms, swimming pools and indoor sports courts can re-open

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has confirmed these sporting facilities can re-open – with enhanced hygiene measures, following the progress we’ve continued making against the virus.

For indoor sports courts, which include dance studios and gymnastics, for people aged 12 and over, the re-opening currently applies to non-contact activity only.

Shopping, eating out and drinking

Following the re-opening of many retail units on 29 June, non-essential shops inside shopping centres – with enhanced hygiene measures, physical distancing and limits of people allowed inside can also now re-open.

Outdoor hospitality facilities, such as beer gardens and pavement cafes, can also now re-open – as well as many more facilities since 15 July:

  • Indoor hospitality, such as restaurants and bars
  • Hairdressers and barbers
  • Museums, galleries, monuments and various visitor attractions
  • Cinemas (including drive-ins and other venues screening films)
  • Libraries
  • All holiday accommodation

Other personal retail services, such as beauticians and tailors, have been allowed to re-open from 22 July.

Some outdoor live events – with physical distancing, enhanced hygiene and restricted numbers – as well as organised outdoor contact sports for people of all ages are also able to re-open.

Face coverings are now mandatory in shops

Following the introduction of mandatory face coverings on public transport, the measures have been extended to all retail settings.

This will ensure we can suppress transmission rates even further and take away more opportunities for the virus to spread. By wearing a face covering in shops and public transport, we’re all safer.

Thanks to the progress we’ve all made against the virus, the First Minister confirmed that shielding advice has officially paused from 1 August – meaning those who have been shielding to protect themselves can now follow the advice set for the general public.

Read the most recent shielding advice here.

Travelling and getting around

People can now get around across Scotland for leisure purposes, as the 5-mile travel restriction has been lifted.

Public transport is operating increased services with provision for physical distancing, and wearing face coverings is compulsory on all transport modes, including buses, trains, trams, taxis and more. Travelling at peak times, where possible, is still discouraged to avoid overcrowding.

Working or running a business

In Phase 3, remote working (working from home) should still remain the default position for those who can – but as more and more businesses gradually re-open, they are required to put in place staggered work times, enhanced hygiene measures, provisions for physical distancing, and other arrangements to ensure that staff are safe.

Indoor non-office-based workplaces, such as manufacturing, warehouses and lab/research facilities can now re-open, and from 15 July – many businesses in the hospitality, tourism and cultural sector, as set out in the guidance. 

Schools, childcare and other educational settings

Thanks to our collective progress we’ve made against this virus, we have been able to re-open schools and returned to full-time, face-to-face teaching from 11 August. We are continuing to put safety first, consistently monitor the situation, and follow the best scientific advice to ensure no one is put at risk.

All childcare providers can also now re-open, subject to individual provider arrangements and with extra safety measures in place.

Universities and colleges have been able to return from 22 July, on a phased basis, with a blended-learning model (in-person and remote teaching) to begin with.

Gatherings and occasions

In Phase 3, places of worship can now re-open for personal prayer, communal prayer and congregational services – with limited numbers, hygiene measures and physical distancing in place. Face coverings should be worn.

Restrictions can also now be eased on the attendance at funerals, marriage ceremonies and civil partnership registrations, also with limited numbers and in strict adherence to public health measures.

Health and social care

In line with the NHS re-mobilisation plan, there will be a further expansion of urgent referrals and prioritised referrals to secondary care, as well as screening services and community optometry practices.

We are also expanding the range of GP services and increasing the number of home visits to shielded patients – according to local mobilisation plans and where it’s safe to do so.

All dental practices may begin to see registered patients for non-aerosol routine care, and we have commissioned an expert review to assess when it will be safe to re-open all aerosol-generating procedures.

Public health guidance

We all have a crucial part to play in tackling this pandemic – and by sticking to these basic rules in each phase, all of us can help to do that.

It will also ensure that together, we can move even more quickly and more safely towards normality, while protecting our communities and saving lives.

Remember the key guidance:

  • Stay at least 2 metres apart from people in other households
  • Wear face coverings in enclosed spaces, such as public transport and shops
  • Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly
  • If you have symptoms of COVID-19 – a new continuous cough, a fever, or a loss or change of taste or smell, book a test and self-isolate immediately
  • You can book a test at or by phoning NHS24 on 0800 028 2816.