Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon says she stays confident there will be "much greater normality" over the summer as the number of people vaccinated has increased in the UK. While it seems that people can travel freely within the UK and the Common Travel Area (CTA), travelling between England and Scotland is not completely free of restrictions at the moment. If you’re planning to travel to Scotland from England for a day, a weekend getaway trip, a special occasion, or a vacation this summer, here is some information that CABINZERO has been updated on.
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Before You Go: What to Note about Travelling to Scotland?
Travelling to Scotland - Where Can I Travel from and to?
The first thing to note at the moment is all of mainland Scotland is now either in COVID protection level one or two. This means people from the rest of the UK are allowed to visit Scotland. However, there are temporary restrictions if you are travelling from Bedford, Bolton and Blackburn with Darwen (according to a new rule applied from Sunday 23 May 2021), as well as from Manchester and Salford (a new travel ban from Monday 21 June 2021).
In these level one and two areas, hotels, bed and breakfasts, self-catering, camping and caravan are allowed to open. However, you can’t share a bedroom with someone you don’t live or bubble with. Most islands in Scotland have been moved to level zero. In these areas, you can share accommodation with eight people from four households.
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You are not allowed to enter any level three or four areas unless you have a permitted reason like going to work or taking care of a vulnerable person.
Find out more about the updated COVID protection levels by area and what you are allowed to do on the Scottish Government’s website.
Travelling to Scotland from England - Accommodation & Social Catering
You can travel to Scotland and stay overnight from England, Wales, Northern Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man. Here is a summary of accommodation and social catering when you travel to Scotland:
- Overnight stay: 1 bedroom/household
- Self-Catering/Unregulated accommodation: you can share between 6 people from 3 households
- Outdoors activities are limited to 8 people from 8 households (level 2), 12 people from 12 households (level 1), or 15 people from 15 households (level 0).
- Indoors activities are limited to 6 people from 3 households (level 2), 8 people from 3 households (level 1), or 8 people from 4 households (level 0).
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Children under 12-year-old do not count towards the total number of people or households meeting outside but count towards the household numbers indoors.
When you meet people from another household indoors, there are a few basic things to bear in mind:
- You don’t need to physically distance yourself from family and friends in a private dwelling.
- You should think beforehand about the number of meetings you have with people from different households depending on the protection level of the area you’re in.
- You should avoid touching surfaces with your hands, maintain good hygiene and wash your hands regularly.
- You should not share food or utensils with other people.
- You should keep rooms well ventilated - opening all windows and doors if possible.
Things to Do Before You Travel to Scotland from England
Only those travelling to Scotland from outside of the UK (or Common Travel Area) are expected to need to quarantine. And while there are no restrictions on quarantine when you travel to Scotland from England, there are a few things to do before you take off:
- You are encouraged to take two lateral flow tests before travelling: the first test should be three days before you travel - the second test should be on the day of travel.
- If you test positive, you would be able to take a more-sensitive PCR test to confirm the result before cancelling your visit.
- You can order the lateral flow kit directly from the UK Government.
What services are allowed to open (the limited number of attendees are subject to local protection level restrictions)?
- Tourist accommodation with sector guidance for tourism and hospitality
- All retail premises
- Libraries, museums and galleries, community centres
- Cafés, pubs and restaurants
- Cinemas, theatres, concert halls, amusement arcades, casinos, bingo halls, bowling alleys, funfairs and snooker/pool halls
- Visitor attractions
- Small scale outdoor and indoor events
- Weddings and funerals
- Stadiums and events – with maximum numbers and evens sector guidance
- Gyms, leisure centres and swimming pools
- Hairdressers, barbers and beauty salons
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Nightclubs and adult entertainment will remain closed, except for use in "limited circumstances".
When You Arrive in Scotland - Things and Tips to Know
- Download the Protect Scotland app and Check In Scotland app from the Apple and Google stores. These apps will alert you if you have been in close contact with a person who has tested positive for coronavirus. They help in contact tracing and work through Bluetooth anonymously, protecting your privacy, as well as advise what you should do next. If you travel in a group or a household, everyone in your group will be asked to give their contact details for contact tracing. This information is retained for 21 days with a view to sharing with the Test and Protect Teams if required.
- Maintain a 2-metre distance with someone outside your household and wear a face covering on public transport, in shops, tourist attractions, cinemas and pubs, bars, restaurants, etc. when you are not at your table.
- Pay by card - as most businesses prefer not to take cash.
- If you develop COVID-19 symptoms, please self-isolate and follow the advice from the Scottish Government.
- Take advantage of food and drink businesses offering delivery, especially in the cities. Check out places you can buy quality local food and drink here.
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- Be mindful to book everything in advance to make sure that businesses can meet the restrictions on the number of people, and remember to cancel if you can’t make it to save the spot for other people who want to enjoy the fun.
- Generally, Food and Beverages premises can open outdoors subject to local restrictions. They can open indoors and serve alcoholic beverages, with separate rules depending on different areas of protection levels. You can refer to this guide for more information on the regulations of the areas you are visiting.
- Group and activity tours can still operate. However, it is advised to stay within your own household group within the activity, stay physically distanced from others, and wear your face covering as required.
- While you are in Scotland, please refer to this guide on how to travel safely within the country. You can find all the important information on walking, wheeling, cycling, bus, rail, Glasgow subway, Edinburgh tram, ferry, taxis and private hire vehicles, private vehicles and car-sharing.
Travelling to Scotland from England: When will COVID-19 restrictions ease?
While England won't remove the remaining restrictions until at least 21 June, although concerns over the Delta variant could delay the date, Scotland is aiming to ease the restrictions later this summer due to the increase in people vaccinated. These travel restrictions and plans are subject to review and chance on the control over the cases in Scotland and the UK.
In conclusion, people can travel to Scotland from England freely as long as they stay under COVID-19 regulations. However, as the new variation Delta has caused quite a severe effect on the UK, the Scottish rules on travelling within the CTA is subject to review and might change in the future. Stay up to date with the COVID-19 travel news and guidance from the Scottish Government to plan your trip accordingly and ensure it goes as smoothly.