Skip to main content

!

Visit our coronavirus page for information and advice

Changes to outdoor restrictions

Although it is still possible to meet up with other households outdoors, the rules have changed, restricting the number of households and people who can meet up. You can now meet up with only 1 other household at a time, in a group of no more than 6 people. Under 12s do not count towards the total number of people meeting, but do count towards the limit of households who can meet. So any under 12s MUST be from within the two households who are meeting. This is because the rate of infection is starting to rise. These restrictions may not be easy for everyone, especially if you have a big family, but they’re in place to reduce the risk of the virus spreading. 
 

Why have the restrictions changed?

Meeting only in smaller groups both indoors and outdoors means spaces are less likely to become crowded (which makes physical distancing harder). Limiting the number of households and people you meet with each day will also reduce the risk of someone who has the virus, without realising it, passing it on to several households on the same day. The fewer people we spend prolonged amounts of time with (for example, as opposed to passing them in the street or park), the less likely we are to catch and pass on the virus. We know it’s not easy, but by continuing to follow the advice, you’re helping to protect yourself, your loved ones and everyone else in your community.

Local restrictions

The information below shows the restrictions at a national level, however, there are now additional restrictions in place in some areas. Please visit gov.scot for up to date information on local restrictions.

Meeting up with friends and family

Can I meet up with friends and family outdoors?

Now that restrictions have changed, you can only meet 1 household outdoors at a time, up to a maximum of 6 people. Under 12s don’t count towards the total number of people meeting, but they do count towards the limit of households who can meet. So any under 12s MUST be from within the two households who are meeting. Everyone aged 12 and over must stick to physical distancing guidelines, that is, you should stay 2 metres away from other adults and children aged 12 or over who are not in your household. You can find out more about physical distancing rules for children here.

You can still meet up to 4 households in total each day, but you must meet them separately. There’s no limit to the number of households children under 18 can meet, but they can only meet with one other household at a time. However, it’s very important that we all limit the number of people we see as much as possible, so think carefully about whether or not you really need to meet up. Maybe you could have a phone call or video chat instead?

Meeting no more than 4 other households each day will limit the risk that someone who had the virus without realising it could infect lots of households on the same day.

Some people will be able to form an extended household with another family or person who they don’t live with. Our guide to extended households explains more.

Remember, the fewer people you meet up with, the less chance the virus has of spreading. So try to limit contact to the friends and family you really want to see! 

Can I meet my friends and family in their home?

Yes, you can meet 1 household at a time indoors or outdoors as long as there are no more than 6 of you, excluding under 12s. Under 12s don’t count towards the total number of people meeting, but they do count towards the limit of households who can meet. Our page on meeting indoors has more information.

Can my child have a play date with different friends or have a party?

Although children under 12 don’t count towards the total number of people in a group, they do count towards the maximum number of households, so any children under 12 MUST be from within the 2 households who are meeting. That means that they can only meet up with friends from one other household at a time.   

Parties should not be taking place for the time being. However, the First Minister is seeking additional expert advice to understand if there are circumstances that children can be exempted from the two households rule so that, for example, children’s birthday parties could go ahead, even on a limited basis, as long as adults complied with the limits. This will be clarified over the coming days and information will be published as soon as it becomes available. 

Can we meet up with another household in the communal space outside my flat?

Yes, as long as it’s an outdoor space and you follow the rules outlined above.

Can I meet up with another household in a private garden?

Yes, you can meet 1 other household in your garden or their garden as long as there are no more than 6 of you, excluding under 12s, who must still be from ONLY either of the two households. You should of course maintain physical distancing and hygiene measures as above.

What if someone in my household has a carer from another household?

If someone from your household or a household you want to meet up with has a carer to help them, that carer is considered to be part of the same household as the person they care for, even if they don’t actually live with them. This means they can join when you meet up with other households, however, there shouldn't be more than 6 people (excluding under 12s).

Can my teenage children meet their friends?

Yes, children aged 12-17 can meet up with 1 other household at a time in groups of no more than 6, following physical distancing guidelines. There's no limit on the total number of households they can meet up with in a day but they should try to limit the amount of people they have contact with to be safe. Under 12s do not count towards the total number of people meeting, but do count towards the limit of households who can meet. So any under 12s must be from within the 2 households who are meeting.

You can also meet with up to 4 households yourself in a day, regardless of whether or not your teen has met up with friends that day, but not more than one other household at any one time. Our page on changes to physical distancing for children has more details.

18-year-olds and over must follow the guidelines for adults, meeting up with no more than a total of 4 households a day, maintaining physical distancing. 

Outdoor activities

Can we go to the beach?

Yes, you can go to the beach to paddle, make sandcastles, have a picnic and so on, as long as you maintain physical distancing and hygiene measures. However, especially on sunny days, bear in mind that beaches can get very crowded, so try to avoid busy times like weekends if you can.

Can we have a picnic or barbecue?

Yes, you can now have a picnic or barbecue with 1 other household, provided there are no more than 6 of you (excluding under 12s, who must still be from within the 2 households) and you maintain physical distancing and hygiene measures. It’s particularly important to keep your hands clean when eating, so make sure you have plenty of hand sanitiser. 

Each household should bring, prepare and eat their own food separately. Avoid sharing utensils, dishes or plates between households.

Can children share toys outdoors if we use hand sanitiser and wipe the toys down regularly?

Children under 12 can share toys and play equipment (including trampolines and slides), but it’s important to keep them clean and for your children to wash their hands regularly. However, don't use alcohol-based hand sanitiser on babies under 1 year old. For children 12 and over, who still need to physically distance, our page on outdoor activities has ideas for games you can play with other households that don't involve contact or shared equipment.

Can I go shopping for non-essential items?

Yes, non-essential shops can now reopen. However, as you might expect, shopping won’t be quite the same experience it was before coronavirus, as shops are putting safety measures into place. So for example you must maintain physical distancing, there may well be plexiglass screens at counters, signs and floor markings around the store, and you may have to queue outside. The Scottish Government has published guidance for retailers which help you understand the actions that stores should be taking. These measures are all being put in place to keep staff and customers safe.

As a customer there are some simple steps you and your family should follow to make your shopping experience safe and enjoyable. 

  • You must wear a face covering when you go into a shop.
  • Shop local, and don’t travel any further than necessary.
  • Be prepared for shopping to take a little bit longer than usual and understand that you may need to queue for longer as a result. If it’s sunny, make sure you’ve got sunscreen on, and avoid smoking while you’re queuing.
  • Wear a face covering when you go in to stores unless there’s a medical reason not to. Children under 5 don’t need to wear a face covering.  
  • Maintain physical distancing from other customers and staff where possible.
  • Use click and collect facilities or online delivery if you can.  
  • Shop in as small a group as possible.
  • Try to avoid busy times and crowded areas. If you see a store is busy, try to come back another time.
  • Use hand sanitiser if it’s provided.
  • Be considerate to retail staff and follow their instructions. Remember that they’re working in challenging circumstances.
  • Be prepared to show ID for age-restricted products and possible removal of face coverings if requested. 
  • Try not to touch things if you’re not considering buying them.

Can I go to a pub or café?

Yes. Pubs, restaurants and cafés can now open to serve food and drink outdoors and indoors, with physical distancing and other measures in place. This means it won’t be quite the experience you’re used to, and it’s important to stick to the following steps to ensure you stay safe and protect others:

  • Don’t meet more than 1 other household, in groups of more than 6 people
  • Wear a face covering when you're moving around the pub, restaurant or café (you don't need to wear one when you're eating or drinking).
  • Avoid busy times as crowds make physical distancing difficult.
  • Try not to touch shared surfaces.
  • Pay attention to all signs and listen to staff.
  • Provide your contact details to help support Test and Protect.

Play parks, sports and games

Can we play sport?

Our page on sport, play and youth activities explains more about the sports you can play and where you can play them.

Can we go to the play park?

Play parks can now reopen. Our page on sport, play and youth activities has tips on how to use play parks safely. Remember, you shouldn’t meet more than 1 other household at a time, in a group of no more than 6 people (under 12s don’t count to the limit of 6 people, but must be from within the 2 households meeting).

Vulnerable people

I’m pregnant, can I still go out and see another family?

Yes, you can meet with 1 other household outdoors at a time, as long as there are no more than 6 of you, you stay 2 metres apart and maintain good hand hygiene. While under 12s don’t count to the limit of 6 people, they MUST be from within the 2 households meeting. You can also meet indoors.

My parents are over 70, can I meet up with them outdoors?

Yes, you can meet with them outdoors, as long as you stay 2 metres apart and maintain good hand hygiene. You can also meet indoors.

I've been shielding, can I meet up with another household?

Yes. On 1 August, shielding was paused altogether, so people who were shielding can now follow the same rules as everyone else, provided they feel comfortable doing so. However, to stay safe, it’s important to strictly follow physical distancing and hygiene measures. You can find out more about shielding at the gov.scot website.

I’ve been shielding, can I go outside for exercise?

Yes, and there’s no limit on the amount of times you can go out, or how long you can stay out for.

If you decide to go out for exercise you:

  • can go out on your own or with people from 1 other household, as long as there are no more than 6 of you
  • can take part in non-contact outdoor activities such as golf, hiking, canoeing, outdoor swimming, and angling
  • should maintain strict physical distancing at all times – this means you should stay 2 metres away from everybody
  • should choose times and areas that are quiet, if you can
  • should wash your hands for at least 20 seconds as soon as you get back home.

On 1 August, shielding was paused altogether, so people who were shielding can now follow the same rules as everyone else, provided they feel comfortable doing so. However, to stay safe, it’s important to strictly follow physical distancing and hygiene measures. You can find a guide to how safe different activities here, so you can make an informed decision. You can also get advice on how to stay safe doing different activities here. You can find out more about shielding at the gov.scot website.

For a full list of all the changes (including changes for health and social care services and businesses) visit the Scottish Government website.

Tips for going outdoors

Tip #1: Pack to be safe

If you’re going out and about, think about what you will need to take with you to stay safe:

  • hand sanitiser
  • tissues and a bag to put used tissues in
  • something to cover your face with and a bag to keep it in
  • antibacterial wipes.

If you need to travel by public transport or go into a shop or other indoor public place, you and any children aged 5 and over must wear a face covering. However, under 5s shouldn't wear face coverings at all. You can find out more about face coverings and where you need to wear one here. In addition, you shouldn't use alcohol-based hand sanitiser on babies under 1 year old.

Tip #2: Plan your toilet trips

Another thing you’ll need to think about it is going to the loo, as public toilets may be closed. If you are visiting someone you can use their loo as long as you avoid touching surfaces, wipe any surfaces that you do touch with antibacterial wipes, wash your hands thoroughly and dry them with a clean towel or a paper towel, which you should dispose of in a closed bin. 

Tip #3: Stick to physical distancing and hygiene rules

When you’re out, it’s really important that you remember the following things, as they all help reduce the spread of the virus:

  • Stay 2 metres away from anyone who isn’t a member of your household
  • Wash your hands frequently or use hand sanitiser if you can’t wash your hands
  • Cough and sneeze into a tissue or your elbow and put the tissue away in a bag afterwards
  • Try not to touch your face
  • Try not to touch any hard surfaces such as gates, benches, walls or fences
  • Wash your hands thoroughly when you get home.

The guidance around physical distancing for children has changed, so that it’s easier for them to spend time with their friends. Our page on physical distancing for children has more information.

You can find out more about physical distancing and hygiene on the NHS Inform website.

Tip #4: Avoid busy places and have a back up plan

When you’re planning to go out, try to head for places that are less likely to be busy, and where your children will be able to play without getting too close to other people. It’s a good idea to have back up plan in place, so if the place you were going to turns out to be crowded, you have somewhere else nearby to go.

Tip #5: Have fun

Being outside is great for your kids’ wellbeing and development so it’s good to take them outdoors to play as often as you can. You can find ideas for games to play outdoors here