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Lockdown easing in Scotland: the key dates

Written by: Emma Lunn
First minister Nicola Sturgeon has announced opening dates for retail, pubs, hairdressers and gyms.

Scotland has been in lockdown since 4 January – the same day prime minister Boris Johnson announced England’s third lockdown.

The planed timetable for easing lockdown in Scotland is as follows:

2 April

The ‘Stay at Home’ requirement will be lifted and replaced with a ‘Stay Local’ message. The public will be expected to remain within their council area and only leave its boundaries for an essential purpose such as education or work.

However, ‘stay local’ is only planned to be in place for three weeks.

5 April

Restrictions in areas currently level 4 will start to be eased. Some of these activities are already permitted in level 3 island communities.

From this date 12 to 17-year-olds can resume outdoor contact sport, while college students within the top three priority groups identified by Colleges Scotland will return to college.

Non-essential ‘click and collect’ retail can re-start. The list of retail allowed to open will be expanded to include garden centres, key cutting shops, mobility equipment shops, baby equipment shops, electrical repair shops, homeware shops, and vehicle showrooms.

Hairdressers and barber shops will be allowed to open by appointment only – but not mobile hairdressers.

12 – 19 April

Depending on term times, all children will go back to school full-time.

26 April

This date will see a more significant reopening of the economy and society.

Depending on the data, and the vaccination program, this date will allow:

  • outdoor socialising of up to six people from up to three households
  • 12 to 17-year-olds to meet outdoors in groups of six from up to six households
  • travel within all of mainland Scotland
  • remaining shops to re-open
  • mobile close contact services to resume
  • gyms to re-open for individual exercise
  • tourist accommodation to re-open
  • work in people’s homes to resume
  • driving lessons to resume
  • weddings and funerals for up to 50 people
  • libraries, museums, galleries re-open
  • outdoor hospitality to open till 22:00 with alcohol permitted
  • indoor hospitality permitted without alcohol and closing at 20:00
  • social mixing in indoor public places subject to current maximum of four people from up to two households

17 May

From 17 May the Scottish government hopes to introduce the following easings:

  • re-introducing in-home socialising for up to four people from up to two households
  • further re-opening of hospitality: bars, pubs, restaurants and cafes can stay open until 22:30 indoors with alcohol permitted and two-hour time-limited slots, and until 22:00 outdoors with alcohol permitted
  • adult outdoor contact sport and indoor group exercises can resume
  • cinemas, amusement arcades and bingo halls to re-open
  • small scale indoor and outdoor events can resume subject to capacity constraints
  • colleges and universities can return to a more blended model of learning
  • more in-person (face-to-face) support services can resume
  • non-professional performance arts can resume outdoors


Sturgeon said it was too early to give specific dates beyond May – with experts needing to assess the effect of previous easings on the R number and other virus indicators.

However, the aim is for Scotland to move back to level 1 from the beginning of June. This will allow further relaxation across all areas of the economy and society, while still applying physical distancing and other non-pharmaceutical interventions.

From the end of June, it’s hoped that Scotland will be able to move to Level 0.

However, Sturgeon warned that the country must be prepared to pause if the data shows that the virus is spreading again. Higher levels of restrictions could be applied locally or regionally.


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