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Scotland’s Strategic Framework

The First Minister announced that restrictions for hospitality would be extended for another week (until 2 November). A five-level framework which will allow for a refreshed strategic approach to suppressing COVID-19 outbreaks across Scotland has been published.

In the coming days the Scottish Government will engage with local government, stakeholders, economic groups and other partners, prior to a final version of the strategic framework being debated in parliament next Tuesday (27 October). ASSC meets with the Scottish Government tomorrow (24 October).

Level Zero

This is the lowest possible level of restrictions and will be the “closest to normality” Scots will see without a vaccine or effective treatment. It will be “similar to the measures in place during the summer” and is designed to be “sustainable for longer periods”.

  • Travel will be unrestricted apart from areas in Level Three or above and to equivalent areas in the rest of the UK.
  • Hotels and other accommodation will be allowed to open, with hospitality all open with potential opening time limits.
  • Face coverings will still be mandatory in public transport, with shops, hairdressers, beauty salons, libraries and other public buildings allowed to open.
  • Events will be allowed with indoor events having restricted numbers, with stadiums open with restricted numbers, but grouped standing not allowed indoors.
  • Places of worship will be allowed to open with a limit of 50 people, with the same limit to apply to weddings, funerals and wakes.
  • Outdoor exercise, leisure and entertainment venues, visitor attractions, schools, indoor childcare will be allowed to open and all sport will be permitted.
  • Nightclubs and adult entertainment will not be allowed to open.
  • Offices and call centres will be expected to operate on a work from home default basis.
  • However, social distancing and limits on the number of people gatherings will apply with limits of eight people from three households indoors, and 15 people from five households outdoors.

Level One:

Identical to Level Zero, but with the rule of six in place for indoor and outdoor gatherings.

  • Places of worship will be allowed to open with a limit of 50 people, but the limit for weddings, funerals and wakes will drop to 20.
  • Adult indoor contact sport will be banned, with outdoor standing events banned and small indoor events allowed.
  • Offices and call centres will be expected to operate on an essential basis only.

Level Two:

The Scottish government states that Levels Two and Three will be when there is an “increased incidence” of the virus and increased community transmission. The measures would be in place for relatively short periods, from between two to four weeks at a time to get the virus down to a sustainable level. Level Two has similar restrictions to Level One, but with a ban on in-home socialising between households.

  • Stadiums will be shut at this level, with all events bar drive-in events also forced to be cancelled.
  • Schools and childcare will also see enhanced protective measures in place.
  • Soft play, funfairs, indoor bowling, theatres, snooker/pool halls, music venues, casinos, bingo halls, nightclubs and adult entertainment will also be forced to shut, with cinemas and amusement arcades allowed to open.
  • There will also be reduced face-to-face public services such as in the NHS.
  • Indoor alcohol sales will also be restricted to solely be available with a meal in hospitality.
  • Mobile close contact services such as hairdressers are no longer permitted at this level

Level Three: 

Broadly similar to Level Two, but with non-essential accommodation services only open to locals for tourism or for business users. There will also be a travel ban for those living within areas in Level Three with: “no non-essential travel into or out of the level 3 area”.

  • People will also be asked to avoid non-essential use of public transport.
  • At this level, all events are cancelled and no fans are allowed in stadiums.
  • Indoor sport is restricted to individual exercise only and outdoor contact sport is banned for adults.
  • All leisure and entertainment venues will be forced to shut and public services will reduce to essential face-to-face only.
  • Sale of alcohol in hospitality will be banned at this level.
  • Colleges and universities will be in ‘restricted blended’ learning mode, rather than a normal blended approach.

Level Four: 

Level Four is the closest level to full lockdown seen in March. The Scottish government will use this when there is “very high or rapidly increasing” incidence of the virus and designed to provide a “short, sharp response” to suppress the virus.

  • As well as all of the restrictions in Level Three, all hospitality bar hotels will be shut and only essential workplaces will be allowed to remain open.
  • Indoor childcare will be forced to stop, informal childcare will only be allowed for essential workers, gyms will shut, but schools will remain open.
  • Weddings will be restricted to five people, public buildings such as libraries will shut as will all hairdressers and beauty salons and other similar services.
  • Shops will also shut apart from essential shops, with no use of public transport allowed either.
  • At this level, there may also be a limit on the distance of travel and a potential ‘stay at home’ message.
  • Tourism will also be shut at this level.
  • At her daily coronavirus briefing where she announced the new framework, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the framework tries to “balance different types of harm”.
  • She said: “It has become increasingly clear that we need to update our approach to tackling Coronavirus to adapt to this latest phase of the pandemic. The draft strategic framework we are publishing sets out how we intend to do that.
  • “In the coming days, we will listen to views from stakeholders on any suggested changes they might have, or how they would like to see it implemented. Although the framework we have published is new, the principles behind it will be familiar.
  • “I know that when people hear the daily figures it’s easy to feel as though the hard sacrifices we are all living with are not making a difference. But by taking these difficult steps we will help suppress the virus, and that is why I am asking everyone to stick with it.”

Financial support

From 2 November, firms that are required by law to close will be eligible for grants every four weeks for as long as the restrictions last. Based on rateable values, awards will be for either £2,000 or £3,000.

Businesses which can remain open, but are directly constrained by the measures, will be eligible for grants worth £1,400 or £2,100, again based on rateable value.

This support is in addition to the UK Government’s revised furlough scheme launching on 1 November.

The Scottish Government will work with local authorities to ensure grants are made available quickly and efficiently.


Further details on which local authority areas of Scotland will fall under which levels will be announced following discussions with directors of public health and local authorities, taking on board recommendations from the national incident management team, before coming into force on 2 November.

Additional information

Link to Coronavirus (COVID-19): Scotland’s Strategic Framework published today.

Link to the First Minister’s full statement.

Link to strategic framework press release.

Link to financial support press release.

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