Covid rules relaxed: Scots can meet family and friends in homes and hug them from May 17, Nicola Sturgeon confirms

Here’s what Covid rules will change in Scotland from May 17


People in Scotland will be able to meet their friends and family in each other’s homes and hug their loved ones, Nicola Sturgeon has confirmed.

Pubs and restaurants will also be allowed to sell alcohol indoors until 10.30pm from Monday, May 17.

Most of Scotland will move to Level 2 Covid-19 rules, but Moray will remain in stricter Level 3 rules following a surge in cases and an increase in hospital admissions, and some islands will move to Level 1 due to low case numbers.

The First Minister said on Tuesday at the coronavirus briefing that people will no longer have to social distance when meeting indoors or in private gardens.

She said: “I actually feel a wee bit emotional saying this, from Monday, as long as you stay within permitted limits, you can hug your loved ones again.»


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But the First Minister said it is still “vital to be cautious” and the decision to drop social distancing will be reviewed in the coming weeks.

In Level 2 areas, six people from three households will be able to meet in homes and can also stay overnight. Under the original route map out of lockdown, this was four people from two households.

Outdoors, people can meet in groups of eight from eight households.

Currently, people in Scotland are able to meet in groups of six outdoors and hospitality venues can open until 8pm indoors, but without alcohol, and 10pm outdoors where alcohol is allowed to be consumed.

People will be able to hug their loved ones from Monday Credit: Pixabay

Other businesses that can reopen from May 17 include cinemas, theatres, concert halls, comedy clubs and casinos. Colleges and universities will be able to resume some in-person teaching.

Outdoor adult contact sport can also resume.

There will be changes to the number of people allowed to attend events. Up to 100 people can attend an indoor event, up to 250 people for outdoor events with unrestricted standing and up to 500 people for outdoor events with seating.

Sturgeon however said event organisers can apply to hold bigger events.

Holidays abroad

Like England, Scotland will move to a traffic light system for international travel.

From Monday, travellers from countries on the red list will have to quarantine in a hotel while those coming from amber list countries will have to self-isolate for 10 days and take two PCR tests.

Those coming from green list countries will have to take a test when they arrive, but they will not need to self-isolate if they test negative.

There are 12 countries on Scotland’s green list. They include Iceland, the Faroe Islands, New Zealand and Australia.

The First Minister said: “This decision means that, as of now, we have a consistent four nations position on international travel – I think that’s positive.

“It has been made possible because the decisions the UK Government has arrived at are appropriately cautious – I hope this continues to be the case but I need to stress that the Scottish Government will continue to take the decision we consider to be right for Scotland.

“We will not sign up to decisions that will put our progress at risk.”

But Sturgeon said Scots should still “think seriously” about taking foreign holidays and “err on the side of caution”.

Case numbers in Scotland

The First Minister said coronavirus cases in Scotland are falling due to the «huge success” of the vaccination programme and people obeying the Covid rules.

In the last three weeks, case numbers have dropped from an average of 226 per day to 177 per day, she said.

While there was a slight increase reported across the country, this was mainly due to the outbreak in Moray, Sturgeon said. Case numbers in Moray are more than four times higher than in the rest of the country.

She said: “The situation in Moray, together with the emergence of new variants globally, should be a sharp reminder to all of us that the virus remains a real threat.»


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She also said: “It’s against that backdrop that, unless the situation was to materially improve over the next few days, it would simply not be safe or sensible to ease restrictions there from Monday.”

Scots will not be able to travel in and out of the Level 3 area, unless it is for permitted reasons.

The Level 1 areas are: Western Isles, Orkney, Shetland, all islands in the Highland Council area with the exception of Skye and the islands in the Argyll and Bute area.

The First Minister indicated the country is still on track to move to Level 0 by June.



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