Last reviewed 14 April 2021

Almost exactly a year after the country first went into lockdown, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has presented an optimistic view of the weeks ahead. Between now and mid-May, she suggested, Scotland would move towards brighter days.

Timetable for exiting lockdown

15 March

All primary aged children returned to school full-time and the phased return of secondary schools is also underway.

2 April

The current “stay at home” rule was lifted and replaced by guidance to stay local — in other words, for people not to travel outside their local authority area unless for an essential purpose.

5 April

Contact sports for 12 to 17-year-olds resumed.

More students — particularly in further education — were allowed to return to on-campus learning.

The phased re-opening of non-essential retail began. Click and collect retail services were permitted to reopen from that date, along with homeware stores, and car showrooms and forecourts. Garden centres were also able to reopen and hairdresser and barber salons reopened for appointments.

12 April

After the Easter break, all children returned to school full-time.

16 April

Restrictions on journeys within mainland Scotland will be lifted entirely, including to and from the islands.

26 April

  • All parts of Scotland currently in level 4 will move down to a modified level 3 and restrictions on journeys within mainland Scotland will be lifted entirely (barring the possible need to protect island communities from the importation of new cases). Restrictions on journeys between Scotland and other parts of the UK and the wider common travel area may also be lifted on that date or soon after.

  • Libraries, museums, galleries and all remaining retail premises will reopen subject to any wider restrictions that remain in place, for example, on hospitality. In addition, indoor gyms will reopen for individual exercise and work in people’s homes will resume, as will driving lessons.

  • Six people from up to three households will be able to meet outdoors and the limit on attendance at weddings, funerals and associated receptions will be raised to 50 people. In addition, 12 to 17-year-olds will be able to meet outdoors with up to six people from six households.

  • Cafés, restaurants and bars will be able to serve people outdoors — in groups of up to six from three households — until 10pm. Alcohol will be permitted, and there will be no requirement for food to be served. Indoor opening of hospitality is possible but will be limited initially to the service of food and non-alcoholic drinks until 8pm, and for groups of up to four people from no more than two households.

  • People on the shielding list can return to work; children and young people on the shielding list can return to school or nursery; and students on the shielding list can return to college or university.

17 May

  • Assuming that the above changes are accomplished as planned, all level 3 areas — or as many as possible — will move to level 2.

  • Indoor hospitality could return to greater normality, with alcohol to be served indoors and within more normal opening hours, though possibly with some continued restrictions — a requirement for people to book in two-hour slots, for example.

  • Adult outdoor contact sports and indoor group exercises will resume and cinemas, amusement arcades and bingo halls will reopen. Non-professional performance arts will resume.

  • Colleges and universities will return to a more blended model of learning so that more students can be on campus.

  • Outdoor and indoor events — albeit on a small scale to begin with — will also re-start with capacity limits to be confirmed with the events sector in the next few weeks.

Early June

All of Scotland will move to at least level 0.

As always, however, the plans came with the caveat that timetable would be dependent on continued progress in suppressing the virus and rolling out vaccines. Ms Sturgeon also warned that international travel would not be possible until at least mid-May due to the risk of importing new cases of the virus.

Later in the summer

The plan is to return to “much greater normalcy”.

Business support

On 22 March, recipients of support under the Strategic Business Framework Fund will receive a final four-week payment. There will be no new claims after that date.

On 19 April, recipients will receive a combined final payment comprising a further two weeks’ closure support and a one off restart grant.

For eligible retail businesses this will mean a payment on 19 April of up to £7500 and for eligible hospitality and leisure businesses, a payment of up to £19,500.