Mainland Scotland has returned to lockdown until at least the end of January in a bid to combat further spread of the new coronavirus strain.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced the new rules on Monday afternoon, as the latest restrictions came into effect from midnight today in all Level 4 areas of the country and will continue throughout the month.

Speaking at Holyrood, Ms Sturgeon said: "I can confirm now, in summary, that we decided to introduce from tomorrow, for the duration of January, a legal requirement to stay at home except for essential purposes. This is similar to the lockdown of March last year."

The First Minister added: "Indeed, it is no exaggeration to say that I am more concerned about the situation we face now than I have been at any time since March last year."

Here's what you can and cannot do:

Can I meet inside a home?

You can go into another person’s house only for certain reasons, such as for essential work, to join your extended household or to provide care and support for a vulnerable person.

This can include providing emotional support for someone whose wellbeing is at risk, including for those who are isolated because of disability or a caring situation.

Children under the age of 12 do not count towards the total number of people permitted to gather indoors, and they do not need to maintain physical distance from others indoors.

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Can I meet outdoors or in public spaces?

Similar to meeting indoors, you can only meet people from another household outdoors and in indoor public spaces for certain reasons, such as for work, to join your extended household, for sport, exercise, social interaction or to provide care and support for a vulnerable person.

This can include providing emotional support for someone whose wellbeing is at risk, including for those who are isolated because of disability or a caring situation.

As of January 5, only two people from two separate households can meet outdoors for sport, exercise or social interaction. 

Children under the age of 12 from these households do not count towards the total number of people permitted to gather outdoors.

Those at a higher risk of severe illness from coronavirus (including those who had been shielding, people 70 and over, people who are pregnant and people with an underlying medical condition) should strictly follow the physical distancing guidance.

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Am I allowed to travel?

By law, you can only leave your home or garden if you have a reasonable excuse.

The restrictions on travel let you leave your home in a Level 4 area, and travel between areas in Levels 3 and 4 where you have a “reasonable excuse” for essential travel.

Although you can travel for these purposes, you should stay as close to home as possible.

The exceptions are different in each case as they align with wider restrictions at each level.  

These include travelling to school, essential shopping, healthcare, childcare, informal exercise or to provide care. A full list of exemptions can be found here.

Can I go on public transport?

You can go on public transport for essential journeys.

However, you must by law wear a face covering, unless you are exempt, and comply with the physical distancing measures that are in place. 

People should also not be entering or leaving Scotland.

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Do I need to work from home?

People are strongly advised to work from home wherever that is practicable.

Will schools stay open?

From January 5 to January 29, schools can only open to in-person learning for children of key workers and vulnerable children, with remote learning for all other children and young people from January 11 to January 29.

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What about colleges and universities?

Colleges and universities can operate using a more restricted mix of face-to-face and distance learning.

Can I get a takeaway?

Yes, but pubs and restaurants will still be closed for eating in.

Takeaways permitted for alcohol and food at all levels, as per existing arrangements, though operators should be mindful of any gatherings developing in the vicinity of their premises following the off-sale of alcohol/food.

Exceptions for hospitals, schools, student accommodation, airside premises, and hotel room service and meals for residents apply at all levels.

Can I go shopping?

Yes, but you should do so alone where possible.

Only essential retail will be able to remain open providing they follow and have implemented Scottish Government guidance to ensure the safety of customers and staff. 

Click and collect and online services can remain open.

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What can stay open?

The businesses which must close at Level 4 are set out by law.

Those that can remain open are:  

  • Food retailers, including food markets, supermarkets, convenience stores and corner shops
  • Off-licences and licensed shops selling alcohol (including breweries)
  • Pharmacies (including non-dispensing pharmacies) and chemists
  • Newsagents
  • Building merchants and suppliers of products and tools used in building work and repairs
  • Petrol stations
  • Car repair and MOT services
  • Bicycle shops
  • Taxi or vehicle hire businesses
  • Banks, building societies, credit unions, short-term loan providers, savings clubs, cash points and undertakings which by way of business operate a currency exchange office, transmit money (or any representation of money) by any means or cash cheques which are made payable to customers
  • Post offices
  • Funeral directors
  • Laundrettes and dry cleaners
  • Dental services, opticians, audiology services, chiropody services, chiropractors, osteopaths and other medical or health services, including services relating to mental health
  • Veterinary surgeons and pet shops
  • Agricultural supplies shops and agricultural markets
  • Storage and distribution facilities, including delivery, drop off or collection points, where the facilities are in the premises of a business included in this sub-paragraph
  • Car parks
  • Public toilets
  • Livestock markets or auctions
  • Outdoor markets, and outdoor car lots

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Can I get my haircut or nails done?

No, close contact services and mobile close contact service providers must not operate. These include:

  • Hairdressing and barbers
  • Beauty and nail services (including make-up)
  • Hair removal
  • Tattoo, piercing and body modification
  • Fashion design, dress-fitting and tailoring
  • Indoor portrait photography
  • Massage therapies
  • Complementary and alternative medicine services requiring physical contact or close physical proximity between persons, but not osteopathy and chiropractic services
  • Spa and wellness services
  • Other services or procedures which require physical contact or close physical proximity between a provider and a customer and are not ancillary to medical, health, or social care services.

Can I play sports, go to the gym or exercise?

A maximum of two people from two separate households can meet outdoors for sport or exercise.

Children under the age of 12 from these households do not count towards this number.

You can travel for local outdoor sport or exercise such as meeting another person, walking, cycling, golf or running that starts and finishes at the same place (which can be up to five miles from the boundary of your local authority area), as long as you abide by the rules on meeting other households.

Indoor sports facilities are closed but outdoor gyms can remain open.

Outdoor non-contact sports such as golf and tennis are permitted for all age groups provided distancing and outdoor rules are followed.

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Can I visit a loved one in the hospital?

Essential Visits only are currently permitted, such as End of Life, birth partners, children, patients with mental health issues including dementia, learning disabilities, autism.

Can I visit a care home?

Visiting a loved one in care homes is classed as essential travel – exempt from travel restrictions

Indoors: essential visits only.  

Outdoors: visits to the care home to see loved ones via garden or window visits, arranged with a care home in advance. As a result of the additional risk posed by the new variant, garden visits should now be limited to one visitor and visits by children and young people should be suspended.

Will clubs be open for my children?

Unregulated activities for parents and children under five years old such as baby and toddler groups that take place outdoors are permitted.

They are limited to a maximum of seven adults and unlimited children aged under five.  

Outdoor organised activities for children are limited to 15 under 12s which includes a maximum of two adult facilitators.

What should I do if I need to enter someone else's home?

If you are meeting people from another household in their garden, you should only go into their house if necessary to:

  • Access the garden – do so quickly and without touching anything
  • Use the toilet – avoid touching surfaces with your hands as much as possible, wipe any surfaces that you do touch with antibacterial wipes, wash your hands thoroughly, dry your hands with a freshly laundered towel or a paper towel, which you should dispose of in a closed bin.

If members of another household are going to visit you outside and might need to use your toilet, you should ensure appropriate cleaning materials are available.

You should also provide either a hand towel for each visiting household or paper towels and a safe disposal option.

Can I form an extended household?

People who live in different places can form an "extended household" in the following circumstances:

Couples who do not live together

If two adults are in a relationship and they do not live together, they, and any children they each live with, can agree to form an 'extended household'.

However, if one member of a household gets coronavirus, there is a strong likelihood that other members of that household will also catch it.

For this reason, there are some important rules that extended households should follow to remain as safe as possible:

  • A household must not form an extended household with more than one other household
  • Households can end the arrangement at any time, but should not then form an extended household with a new household for at least a 14-day period.

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What about shared parenting?

Where parents do not live in the same household, children can move between their parents’ homes, this includes both supervised and unsupervised contact.

If you have a more informal arrangement with your partner or ex-partner, you’ll need to discuss what’s best for your kids.

What about places of worship?

Places of worship are required to close for worship but can open for the purposes of leading an act of worship (broadcast or online), conducting a marriage or civil partnership ceremony or a funeral.​​​​​

Can I get married or go to a funeral?

Yes, but wedding ceremonies and civil partnership registrations can take place with a maximum capacity of five people with distancing rules in place.

Funerals can take place with a maximum capacity of 20, provided the venue’s capacity allows for two-metre physical distancing.

Wedding or civil partnership receptions and post-funeral gatherings such as wakes and cannot take place.

Christenings, bar mitzvahs and other life events apart from weddings, civil partnerships or funerals should not take place.

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Will hotels be open?

All holiday accommodation is closed to tourism. Hotels, B&Bs and self-catering can remain open for essential customers only:

  • Anyone who is using that accommodation for work purposes.
  • Anyone who requires accommodation to attend a funeral.
  • Anyone who is providing accommodation or support services to the homeless.
  • Anyone who uses that accommodation as their main residence.
  • Anyone who needs accommodation while moving home.
  • Anyone who is unable to return to their main residence.
  • Anyone who requires accommodation to attend a marriage ceremony or civil partnership registration.
  • Anyone who requires accommodation to participate in or facilitate shared parenting arrangements.

Can I have work carried out in my home?

Tradespeople should only go into a house to carry out or deliver essential work or services.

For example:

  • To carry out utility (electricity, gas, water, telephone, broadband) safety checks, repairs, maintenance and installations
  • To carry out repairs and maintenance that would otherwise threaten the household’s health and safety
  • To deliver goods or shopping, where essential
  • To deliver, install or repair key household furniture and appliances such as washing machines, fridges and cookers
  • To support a home move, for example, furniture removal

When carrying out essential work in someone’s house, tradespeople should stay two metres apart from the people who live there, wear a face covering and follow good hand and respiratory hygiene.

Can I go to the football or a gig?

No. Stadia and events must be closed to spectators.

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What about driving lessons?

Driving lessons, including motorcycle lessons, must not be held unless all occupants of the vehicle or vehicles are from the same household or extended household.

Will libraries be open?

Public buildings such as libraries will be closed, however, library click and collect services may still operate.

What about community centres?

Community centres can continue to operate for the delivery of essential services only, such as emergency shelter, medical services or meals for the homeless.

Can I go to the zoo or museum?

All indoor visitor attractions such as museums, galleries, heritage attractions, indoor areas of zoos and aquariums are closed. 

Outdoor visitor attractions, such as parks and gardens and the outdoor areas of zoos may remain open, to enable exercise and recreation to be undertaken with appropriate physical distancing in place, but should only be visited in line with travel restrictions.

Visitor attractions’ retail and hospitality facilities will be closed.

Can I go to the cinema or leisure centres?

No, all leisure and entertainment premises must be closed (except for use in limited circumstances).

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Will I have access to public services?

Public services will be delivered online where possible. Face-to-face services can continue where this is essential.

Any advice or rules on staying safe do not prevent anyone from acting to keep themselves safe from domestic abuse, including leaving home.

Support groups and one-to-one support should be delivered remotely where possible, but support may be delivered in-person if remote delivery is not possible and they are essential for people’s wellbeing.

How can I report a rule breach?

You can report a breach taking part in Scotland by accessing the form here.

The form is for reporting breaches and is not meant for reporting emergencies with the police still advising members of the public to call 999 in an emergency. 

What if I'm shielding?

The Chief Medical Officer wrote to everyone on the shielding list during the week beginning January 4 to set out advice. 

The Scottish Government are not advising you to stop going outside, however, you should stay home as much as possible but you can still go out for exercise and essential shopping or medicines.

You should minimise contact with people outside your own household if you can and you should not take public transport.

Shopping: If you, your child or someone you care for is on the shielding list, you can sign up for priority access to supermarket online delivery slots.

Once you register you will get priority access to see online delivery slots. It may take a few weeks for you to get registered for the service. .  Supermarkets have also increased the number of ways to shop and have shopping delivered which are available now.

If you do visit shops or supermarkets strictly follow the guidelines when shopping and limit the number of times you go to a shop. Shop at quieter times.

If you cannot work from home: You should continue to work from home if you can.

If you cannot work from home, if you live or work in an area in lockdown, you should not go to work.  The letter you will receive from the Chief Medical Officer acts as a fit note for as long as lockdown restrictions are in place.

This letter is called a shielding notification and can be shown to your employer without the need for a GP fit note.

School/ formal childcare: Children on the shielding list should not attend in person.

Recent Covid-19 hotspots: