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Level four - what does it mean?

Mon 21 Dec 20

From Boxing Day (00.01 on 26 December) level four measures came into force for all of mainland Scotland, including the closure of non-essential retail and hospitality. These restrictions will be introduced for a period of three weeks.

So, your business is now in level four. Here’s the key things in terms of what it means for you courtesy of This page includes:

Hospitality / food and drink

Restaurants, cafes, pubs and bars will be closed.

Takeaways can still operate as normal, provided food and drink is sold for consumption off the premises. Face coverings and physical distancing rules must be followed.

Hotels and other accommodation providers can still serve food to qualifying guests i.e. key or exempt workers, staying in their premises up to 10pm. Room service, including alcohol, is allowed as normal.

The hospitality sector should continue to follow the sector guidance for tourism and hospitality.


Holiday accommodation

All holiday accommodation is closed to tourism. Hotels, B&Bs and self-catering can remain open for essential customers only:

  • anyone who is using that accommodation for work purposes

  • anyone who requires accommodation to attend a funeral

  • anyone who is providing accommodation or support services to the homeless

  • anyone who uses that accommodation as their main residence

  • anyone who needs accommodation while moving home

  • anyone who is unable to return to their main residence

  • anyone who requires accommodation to attend a marriage ceremony or civil partnership registration
  • anyone who requires accommodation to participate in or facilitate shared parenting arrangements

There is sperate guidance for workers' accommodation.

Breaching the restrictions in the regulations is a criminal offence, unless you have a “reasonable excuse” for doing so. This means that accommodation providers may offer accommodation to customers in other circumstances provided it is an essential purpose. An example of this would be where someone needs accommodation for an essential hospital visit.

The hospitality sector should continue to follow the sector guidance for tourism and hospitality.

In line with Competition and Markets Authority guidance, a full refund should be offered to customers who booked holiday homes, but could not stay in them due to lockdown restrictions. The regulation of consumer protection is the responsibility of the UK Government at Westminster. The Competition and Markets Authority has issued guidance to businesses and consumers about refunds.


Visitor attractions

All indoor visitor attractions such as museums, galleries, heritage attractions, indoor areas of zoos and aquariums are closed. 

Outdoor visitor attractions, such as parks, gardens and the outdoor areas of zoos may remain open, to enable exercise and recreation to be undertaken with appropriate physical distancing in place, but should only be visited in line with travel restrictions.

Visitor attraction’s retail and hospitality facilities will be closed.

Public and customer toilets can be opened as long as it is safe to do so. Where toilets are part of a larger premises, for example a shop, face coverings must be worn.

Specific sector guidance:


Meeting other households

Meeting indoors

People should not meet anyone who is not in their household indoors. 

Meeting outdoors

You can meet people from other households outdoors in a private garden or in a public place such as a public park. The maximum number of people who can meet outdoors is six which can be from up to two separate households.

Children under the age of 12 from these households do not count towards the total number of people counted in a gathering. Children under 12 do not need to maintain physical distance from others. This is to allow children under 12 to play with their friends outside.

Young people aged between 12 and 17 can meet up in groups of up to six at a time outdoors. The two household limit on outdoor gathering does not apply to this age group but physical distancing is still required.

Where an individual household includes more than six people, they can continue to meet outside as a household even if the total number of people exceeds six.


Travel restrictions

You must not travel out of your level four local authority area, except for essential reasons.

Visiting Scotland from other parts of the UK and Ireland, under current Scottish regulations: unless you have a reasonable excuse, you must not travel between Scotland and England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Ireland. Find out more on Scottish Government travel between Scotland and the rest of the UK. Travelling for a holiday is not a reasonable excuse. 

It is illegal to travel for non-essential purposes from the rest of the UK to Scotland. Please refer to guidance which explains the provisions within the Health Protection (Coronavirus)(Restrictions and Requirements)(Local Levels)(Scotland) Amendment (No.3) Regulations 2020.

People should comply with the rules applicable to their local authority area in Scotland. Please note the levels and the contents of the levels is reviewed on a regular basis.

Read the Scottish Government advice and guidance on how to travel safely

Read the UK Government guidance on travelling from England to other UK nations.


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