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Living safely with COVID-19

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Coronavirus Living safely with COVID-19

Thanks to Scotland’s widespread vaccination coverage and access to new COVID-19 treatments, the approach to testing in Scotland has changed. But while we are now in a new phase of the pandemic, it's still very important to follow simple measures to help on protect yourself, your family and others.

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

How can I protect myself and others from coronavirus?

To help prevent coronavirus spreading, use ‘Covid sense’ to help protect yourself and other people:

How can I keep everything clean and hygienic?

It’s important to:

  • wash your hands with soap and water or use a hand sanitiser regularly throughout the day. This is particularly important when you get home or into work, when you blow your nose or cough, and when you eat or handle food. Although don't use alcohol-based hand sanitiser on babies under 1 year old.
  • catch your cough or sneeze in tissue, bin it, then wash your hands.
  • avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces in your home regularly.
  • avoid touching surfaces when you're out and about.

We all know we need to wash our hands for at least 20 seconds, but how long is that? Soap-A-Sheep is a fun online game you can play with your kids to help you realise 20 seconds is longer than you think!

However hard we try to stop them, kids always end up sticking their fingers in their mouths and up their noses. Each time they do this, try to get them to wash their hands and wipe down any surfaces. 

If you're out of the house, try and keep their hands away from their faces as best as you can.

Do I still need to stay 1 metre apart from people outside my household?

Physical distancing (staying 1 metre away from anyone who isn’t part of your household) is no longer required. However, some business premises and venues may still ask you to distance, so make sure you always follow any signs when you're out and about. In general, it’s a good idea to continue to keep a safe distance from other people, especially when you’re indoors. This will help keep everyone safe, and help prevent the virus from spreading.

If you’re worried about mixing with others as we adapt to living with the virus, or you just feel more comfortable when you have more room, you can wear a Distance Aware badge or lanyard to show others you need more space. You can find out more about the Distance Aware scheme at the website.

Do we still have to wear face coverings?

We no longer have to wear face coverings by law. However, it’s still strongly recommended to wear a face covering on public transport and indoor public places, as it helps to reduce the spread of coronavirus and provides protection and reassurance to those most at risk. Our page on face coverings has further information. Some places like GP’s surgeries and hospitals, as well as other businesses and venues, may still ask you to wear a face covering as part of their own risk assessment.

Why is good ventilation important?

Good ventilation (letting fresh air into your home) is an important way of preventing the spread of coronavirus. When people who have coronavirus breathe, speak, cough or sneeze, this releases tiny particles of the virus into the air. If other people breathe these particles in, they can catch the virus. When you open doors or windows or window vents, as well as letting fresh air in you are also letting out stale air that may contain virus particles. 

We know that if it's cold outside, the thought of letting cold air in when we’re trying to keep our homes warm isn’t appealing, but even opening your window a wee bit (for example, keeping it on the latch) or for just 5 minutes can help dispel the virus without making your home too cold.

It’s always best to meet people outdoors if you can, as this is safer than meeting indoors.

What should I do if I develop coronavirus symptoms?

The rules in Scotland have changed, so if you have coronavirus symptoms, you no longer need to get a test or self-isolate. However, if you feel ill or have a temperature you should try to stay at home as much as you can and avoid meeting other people, particularly people who are more likely to get seriously ill if they catch coronavirus. 

You can find more information on the NHS Inform website.

Can I still get a coronavirus test?

Testing in Scotland has changed. On 1 May, free COVID-19 testing ended for most people in Scotland with and without coronavirus symptoms.

Testing is available only for specific groups in order to protect high risk settings, to support clinical care and for surveillance

There are a small number of people who can still get free COVID-19 tests. You can order tests if you are:

  • eligible for COVID-19 treatments
  • applying for the self-isolation support grant.

Health and care workers will continue to access lateral flow tests through their workplace to use if they have symptoms.

If you are a low-income worker and require financial support to stay at home as advised, you may be able to apply for a Self-Isolation Support Grant.

Please note that the Self-Isolation Support Grant closed on 5 January 2023.

If you booked a PCR test through the SISG portal on or before this date, you can apply for the grant up to 28 days from your positive PCR test result.

If you’re eligible for the grant and were unable to apply within 28 days from your positive PCR test result, your local council may be able to consider your application. This is only if you were unable to apply within the 28 days because of something that you could not control.

Guidance on what to do if you are unwell or if you think you have COVID-19, including eligibility for testing and how to order test kits, is available on NHS Inform.

What if I've been in close contact with someone with COVID-19?

If you’ve been in close contact with someone who has coronavirus symptoms, you no longer need to self-isolate or take daily tests. However, if you feel ill or have a temperature, it’s best to stay at home and avoid meeting up with other people. Even if you feel fine, it’s a good idea to take the following precautions for 10 days to reduce the risk of passing it on to anyone else:

  • avoid coming into contact with people who are more likely to get seriously ill if they catch coronavirus
  • wear a face covering if you’re in a crowded place or in close contact with other people indoors
  • wash your hands regularly with soap and water, or use hand sanitiser.

Guidance on what to do if you are unwell or if you think you have COVID-19 is available on NHS Inform.

Are people still being advised to shield?

At the beginning of the pandemic, people who are at very high risk of severe illness from coronavirus were advised to shield.

Now, however, the success of the vaccination programme and new medications that are now available to treat Covid have shown that the vast majority of this group are at no greater risk from the virus than the general population.

This may not be the case for some people who are immunosuppressed and who cannot fight diseases and infections such as COVID-19 because their immune system is weakened due to a health condition or medical treatment. You can find guidance for immunosuppressed people at

You can find out more at the Scottish Government website and on

Getting the COVID-19 vaccine

The COVID-19 vaccine is your best protection against coronavirus. So to keep yourself, your family and your community safe, NHS Scotland recommends that you get both doses of the vaccine and a third booster when you’re offered it. You can find out more about the vaccine on the NHS Inform website. You can find out more about the vaccine for children and young people here.

Watch this video for some useful facts about the vaccine.

How long does COVID last?

While most people recover quickly from coronavirus (COVID-19), some people may have ongoing symptoms. These can last for a few weeks or longer. This has been referred to as long COVID.

Contact your GP or paediatric team directly if you're worried that your or your child have possible long COVID symptoms.

Once you've spoken with your GP or paediatric team, you may find it helpful to connect with other people affected by long COVID, who can share their experiences, and information on things that have helped them.

If you're looking to speak to other people affected by long COVID, there are groups that may be able to help:

If you're worried about how your child is getting on at school or in their Early Learning and Childcare (ELC) setting, or you feel that they need extra help with their learning, the best thing to do is to speak to your child’s school or ELC setting as soon as you can. You can get more information about the support that might be available on our additional support for learning page and on the Enquire website.

Last updated: 5 Jan, 2023