Six people from three households will be able to meet in a hospitality venue and eight people from eight houses will be able to meet outdoors from Monday, May 17, after lockdown restrictions are eased further in Scotland.
The rules, which were confirmed by Scottish First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, coincide with the country being moved down to Alert Level 2.
In Level 2, up to four people from two households can socialise indoors in a private home, while restaurants, cafés, pubs and bars can open indoors until 22:30 with two hour pre-booked slots. Cinemas, theatres, comedy clubs, amusement arcades and bingo halls can also open, alongside all holiday accommodation such as hotels, self-catering accommodation and campsites.
Additionally, Ms Sturgeon has said that people will be able to hug each other from this date, subject to restrictions. The First Minister stated that she felt “a wee bit emotional” whilst announcing this change in rules.
However, Glasgow and Moray will remain in Level 3 following a surge in cases and an increase in hospital admissions. The First Minister confirmed on May 14 that current restrictions would continue for at least a week, due to evidence that the highly transmissible Indian variant had made it to Glasgow.
But the Western Isles, Orkney, Shetland, all islands in the Highland Council area with the exception of Skye and the islands in the Argyll and Bute area will move into Level 1 from this date, due to vaccination rollout and low case numbers.
On May 11, the First Minister praised the “huge success” of the vaccination programme along with compliance with restrictions which has lead to the fall in case numbers, which has dropped from an average of 226 per day to 177 per day.
Ms Sturgeon has previously said that life should look “much more like normality” by July, with the country aiming to move to Level 1 of restrictions by June 7, and then to level zero later that month.
What are the current rules in Scotland?
Scotland moved to Level 3 of lockdown restrictions on April 26, allowing non-essential shops, pubs and restaurants to open their doors after four months in lockdown. Gyms, swimming pools, libraries and museums have also reopened.
However, hospitality must currently close from 8pm indoors, and alcohol is only allowed to be served outdoors.
Groups of up to six adults from six households are allowed to meet outdoors, including in public spaces and private gardens. Children under 12 do not count towards the limit.
Funerals and weddings – including post-funeral events and receptions – are allowed to take place with up to 50 people and alcohol permitted.
Additionally, people across the UK can now travel between England, Scotland and Wales as border restrictions are eased.
University and college students have returned for in-person teaching and outdoor contact sports for 12-17-year olds have resumed. Primary students returned to the classroom full-time on Mar 15, with those in secondary having a mix of online and face-to-face lessons.
Outdoor non-contact sport and organised group exercise can take place for all adults, in groups of up to 15 people.
New guidance for those shielding has also been introduced. If you are shielding but cannot work from home, do not go to work – the Chief Medical Officer will write to all that this applies to which will act as a doctors note.
How many vaccinations have taken place in Scotland?
As of May 15, 3,003,339 people have received the first dose of the Covid vaccination, while 1,599,519 have received their second dose since the rollout began on Jan 16, over 33 per cent of all Scottish adults.
The Scottish Government has started to invite people over 40 to receive their first vaccine, meaning that all those in the nine priority groups have been offered a jab.
Those aged 30 to 39 years old will be invited forward next, followed by 18-29 year olds.
It comes as NHS Grampian has begun offering Covid-19 vaccinations to those aged 18-39 in Moray as the health board combats an “uncontrolled” outbreak of the virus.
Under-40s who have not already received an appointment were contacted from May 8, initially by phone and by letter from the middle of the week commencing May 10.
Can I travel to Scotland?
Travel to and from England is now allowed, following the latest changes of lockdown measures. Self-catering accommodation has also been allowed to reopen as of Apr 26.
From May 17, a further easing of lockdown measures in both England and Scotland means all remaining accommodation including hotels, hostels and B&Bs can re-open. Domestic overnight stays will be allowed from this date for groups of up to 6 people or two households.
Additionally, travel to some countries without a hotel quarantine upon return will be permitted from May 17.
Under the system similar to that set out by the government in Westminster, countries will be classified as green, amber and red and a review would take place every four weeks.
Managed isolation will still be needed for countries on the “red list”, while a 10-day period of self-isolation with two PCR tests will be needed for amber list countries and those arriving from green list countries will be required to take a test when they arrive, but will not need to self-isolate if they do not have the virus.
12 countries and territories appear on the “green” list from Monday, May 17, including Iceland, the Faroe Islands, New Zealand and Australia.
“This decision means that, as of now, we have a consistent four nations position on international travel – I think that’s positive,” Ms Sturgeon said.
“It has been made possible because the decisions the UK Government has arrived at are appropriately cautious – I hope this continues to be the case but I need to stress that the Scottish Government will continue to take the decision we consider to be right for Scotland.
“We will not sign up to decisions that will put our progress at risk.”
Read more: Travel advice for holidays to Scotland