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.

The graphic guide above summarises the gradual re-opening, on a staggered basis, over Phase 3.

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, can re-open with enhanced hygiene measures from 22 July.

Dates for the re-opening of outdoor and indoor live events, theatres, music venues, bingo halls and indoor gyms are under review to determine when it is safe, and will be outlined by the First Minister at a later stage.

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.

Seeing family and friends

In Phase 3, you are be able to meet outdoors with larger groups up to 4 different households at a time – but with no more than 15 people in total, and with physical distancing in place.

You can also meet people from up to 2 other households at a time indoors, but with no more than 8 people in total and with physical distancing. Wash your hands and surfaces regularly, and if possible, keep rooms well ventilated – consider opening windows or a door.

Children under 11 do not need to maintain physical distancing – and there is no limit to the number of households that under-11s can meet in one day.

Non-cohabiting couples, and any children who live with them, are also now be able to reunite indoors and outdoors without physical distancing.

Impact on those shielding

Anyone who was shielding, unless they live in a nursing or residential care home, are able to go outdoors for exercise and take part in non-contact outdoor activities such as golf and hiking.

Individuals in the shielding group are also now able to meet outside with up to 2 other households per day in a group of maximum 8 people, with physical distancing. If you’re shielding, you no longer have to physically distance with people in your household.

Those shielding should however still only work from home and avoid shops, pharmacies and other settings where physical distancing is difficult to maintain.

When undertaking any activities, you should:

  • maintain strict physical distancing of at least 2 metres (3 steps) at all times with people outside of your household
  • choose times and areas that are quiet, if possible
  • wash your hands for at least 20 seconds and wipe hard surfaces with disinfectant as soon as you get back home

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

More children are now able to access critical childcare provision, such as child minding services and outdoor nurseries, while more support has been made available to pupils at key transition points, e.g. those due to start P1 or S1.

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

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

We’re continuing to work hard to adapt schools with the aim of a full-time return to face-to-face teaching from August 11 – as long as it’s safe to do so.

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.

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.