Scotland lockdown update: new rules explained as Nicola Sturgeon announces limit of 6 people at social gatherings

People in Scotland will now no longer be able to socialise in groups greater than six

Nicola Sturgeon confirmed that Scotland would remain in phase three of its lockdown exit strategy until at least October 1 (Getty Images)
Nicola Sturgeon confirmed that Scotland would remain in phase three of its lockdown exit strategy until at least October 1 (Getty Images)

Scotland will spend at least another three weeks in phase three of its lockdown exit plan after Nicola Sturgeon announced restriction on social gatherings.

Following in the footsteps of the Westminster Government, the number of people allowed to meet up in Scotland will now be limited to six.

The new measure will apply to both indoor and outdoor settings.

The First Minister also revealed that reopenings due to take place on September 14 will now be reviewed on October 1 with a view to reopening on October 5.

Rules applying to the hospitality sector have also been announced with the use of face masks while entering, exiting or moving around in a restaurant, bar or cafe now required.

The announcement came following the release of a new coronavirus tracing app which all people based in Scotland are being encouraged to download.

Speaking from Holyrood the First Minister said: "The pandemic is at this stage accelerating again - albeit, and thankfully, from a low base and not as rapidly as it was back in March and April.”

What changes have been paused?

The Scottish Government had set an indicative date for the reopening of some industries on September 14, but this has now been paused for at least three weeks.

The following changes will now be reviewed on October 1, with an indicative reopening date of October 5:

- Reopening of indoor soft play

- Restarting of certain indoor live events – with physical distancing, enhanced hygiene, and restricted numbers – following guidance. Work will be undertaken with the sector – on options for pilot events.

- Reopening of other indoor entertainment venues – following guidance with physical distancing requirements (e.g. theatres, live music venues).

- Reopening of indoor sports courts– including skating and dance studios

- Limited re-opening of stadia

- The launch of outdoor focussed standing live events

The First Minister also confirmed that the reopening of call centres and office spaces where staff are still working from home would not take place before October 1.

What are the new social gathering rules?

Nicola Sturgeon also announced that people would now only be able to meet up in groups of six – whether inside or outside.

She said: “We have concluded that it is necessary to tighten some existing restrictions, to help curb the spread of the virus especially between and within households.

“As of now, up to eight people from three households can meet indoors. Larger outdoor gatherings are also permitted.

“I can confirm that we intend to change this, so that a maximum of six people from two households will now be permitted to meet together.”

These rules apply both indoors, in houses, in pubs and restaurants, and also outdoors including in private gardens.

The First Minister said there would be some “limited exceptions” for the new limit of six people in any gathering, for organised sports and places of worship.

She added that any children under 12 who are part of two households meeting up would not count towards the limit of six people.

Weddings, funerals and civil partnerships are also allowed to carry on with a 20 person limit.

The new rules legally come into force on Monday (14 September), though Sturgeon has asked that people start following them immediately.

New hospitality rules

Ms Sturgeon also confirmed the introduction of rules on face coverings in hospitality settings.

She revealed that it would be mandatory for face coverings to be worn when entering, exiting or moving around premises, or while not eating or drinking.

She also confirmed that face covering usage would be mandatory for staff.

She stated: “The hospitality industry has put a lot of effort into creating safe spaces for people to meet and we hope these additional protections will help ensure the sector can remain open, with high levels of compliance.”

When will Scotland move into phase 4?

Speaking at First Minister’s Questions the First Minister confirmed, as expected, that Scotland would remain in phase three of its lockdown exit strategy.

The next review on lockdown measures takes place on October 1, though Ms Sturgeon has tempered expectation on any possible move out of phase 3.

"It is not possible at this stage to indicate a move from phase 3 to phase 4 of the route map out of lockdown.

"I can therefore confirm that we will remain in phase 3 for now - and it is also important to stress that is likely to be the case for some time yet.

A move to phase 4, would require Scotland to reach a stage where “the virus is no longer considered a significant threat to public health”.

And the First Minister said that Scotland is clearly shy of that goal.