Scotland lockdown: the Covid rules that will change next as Nicola Sturgeon gives update - including outdoor meetings

Restrictions on outdoor socialising and exercise have been eased by the First Minister

Tuesday, 9th March 2021, 3:12 pm
Updated Tuesday, 9th March 2021, 4:24 pm

Nicola Sturgeon has revealed further details of how Scotland will move out of lockdown.

The First Minister told MSPs on Tuesday 9 March that restrictions on outdoor meetings and activities will be eased, as well as rules surrounding communal worship.

In February, Ms Sturgeon unveiled her roadmap out of lockdown, detailing provisional dates for the phased reopening of the economy.

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The First Minister unveiled in February how restrictions in Scotland will be gradually eased (Getty Images)

So, what Covid rules will be eased in Scotland next?

Here is everything that Ms Sturgeon announced.

What Covid rules will change in Scotland?

The First Minister addressed the Scottish Parliament, announcing some “modest” changes to the country’s Covid rules.

Ms Sturgeon said the government would “continue to prioritise children’s education”, which in turn means that further changes to restrictions will be limited as the vaccine is rolled out.

But she also said rules could be relaxed “quicker than previously anticipated” if possible.

When she updates MSPs next week, Ms Sturgeon will set out a “firmer timeline” for Scotland’s exit from lockdown.

For now, these are the changes that will come into effect from Friday 12 March onwards:


Rules on social interactions will be eased so up to four adults from two households will be able to meet outside from Friday.

Meanwhile, 12 to 17-year-olds will also be able to meet in groups of four, but the two household limit won’t apply.

That means four friends from four different families would be able to see each other outdoors.

Meet-ups will be permitted for social and recreational purposes, as well as for essential exercise, Ms Sturgeon said.

And interactions will be able to take place in any outdoor space - including private gardens.

People should only go indoors to reach a back garden or to use a toilet, and households should only meet up close to home.

Travel restrictions will not be eased in the country just yet, the First Minister added.

Exercise and activities

Also from Friday 12 March, outdoor non-contact sports and organised group exercise will be able to go ahead for all adults in groups of up to 15 people.

Ms Sturgeon said there would be flexibility on travel rules for young people, so children are not prevented from taking part in sport outside their local area.

The First Minister called these changes “minor” but “important”.

Places of worship

Communal worship will be able to restart from Friday 26 March, in time for Passover, Easter, Ramadan and Vaisakhi.

Ms Sturgeon said this was dependent on no “deterioration in the situation” between now and then.

The limit on attendance at communal services will also be increased from 20 people to 50, as long as physical distancing is possible.

Ms Sturgeon said: “This change is a proportionate step, which we believe can be achieved

relatively safely, and which will hopefully enable more people to draw strength, comfort and inspiration from acts of collective worship.”


During her update last week, Ms Sturgeon confirmed that on 15 March, unless there is new evidence forcing the government to reconsider, phase two of the school return will come into effect.

On that date, primaries four to seven will return on a full time basis, and there will also be a phased return of secondary school pupils.

Ms Sturgeon said she expects that all secondary school pupils will go back to school on a full time basis following the Easter holidays.

But she hopes that all secondary school pupils will spend some time in school from 15 March until the break.

The First Minister made clear that local authorities would have flexibility in how they carry out the phased return.

There will also be twice-weekly lateral flow testing for all school staff in primary, secondary and special schools, and for all secondary school pupils in years four, five and six.

What rules could be eased after that?

Any other restrictions might not be eased further until the third phase from 5 April.

From then, six people from two households may be permitted to meet outdoors.

The “stay at home” restriction is also not expected to be lifted until at least then.

Some retailers could start to reopen from this date, and communal worship could restart with restricted numbers.

The government aims to publish more details on the roadmap out of lockdown in mid-March.

This will set out what sections of the economy will be permitted to reopen from late April onwards during the last phase.

At that time, Scotland will also move back to a levels system, with everywhere currently under Level 4 restrictions initially moving into Level 3.

That would result in a “phased but significant” reopening of the economy, with the reopening of non-essential retail, hospitality venues, hairdressers and gyms.

There could also be some revisions to what the rules are in each level, Ms Sturgeon previously said.