Can I visit Scotland? Latest travel advice for holidays as roadmap revealed for easing lockdown

Emma Featherstone
·4-min read
when can I visit Scotland Latest travel advice for holidays roadmap lockdown hotels - Getty
when can I visit Scotland Latest travel advice for holidays roadmap lockdown hotels - Getty

Scotland is to move to a tiered system of restrictions from the last week in April, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced on February 23.

The stay-at-home rule, which has been in place since January 5, will be lifted from April 5 with the reopening of some sectors from April 26.

"It is therefore from the last week of April that we would expect to see phased but significant reopening of the economy, including non-essential retail, hospitality and services like gyms and hairdressers,” she said.

Earlier this month Ms Sturgeon has warned Scottish people not to book Easter holidays. Her roadmap confirms that domestic breaks will not return in time for the April bank holiday.

She was more positive on breaks later this year. She said last week: "for the summer, while it is still highly unlikely that overseas holidays will be possible or advisable, staycations might be – but this will depend on the data nearer the time."

Tourism leaders said her comments on Easter came as a “blow” to the industry. Marc Crothall, chief executive of the Scottish Tourism Alliance (STA), said: "I know of numerous businesses who are wholly reliant on being able to trade again at Easter in order to stay solvent."

Here, we look at the key questions surrounding holidays in Scotland.

What are the lockdown rules in Scotland, and when might they lift?

The latest lockdown rules in Scotland came into effect on January 5. The stay-at-home order is set to lift on April 5, with some sectors reopening on April 26 when Scotland’s levels system (similar to tiers in England) will resume.

Nicola Sturgeon said her roadmap would be staggered by intervals of “at least three weeks”: Among the rules affecting travel and tourism in the country as of February 23 are:

  • Stay-at-home: you can only leave your home or garden if you have a reasonable excuse

  • Restaurants, cafes, pubs and bars are closed, except for takeaway

  • Holiday accommodation, including hotels, B&BS and self-catering properties must be closed

  • All leisure and entertainment premises must be closed

  • All visitor attractions are closed

edinburgh - Getty
edinburgh - Getty

When will hospitality reopen in Scotland?

The reopening of different parts of the economy will be staggered within intervals of “at least three weeks” from April 26 when Scotland’s levels system resumes.

Hairdressers, shops and gyms will be among the first businesses to reopen; the reopening dates for other industries have yet to be specified.

When will Scotland welcome visitors?

As of February 23, Scottish regulations mean that you must not travel between Scotland and the rest of the UK without a reasonable excuse. This does not include leisure trips.

International travel is also banned, except for work purposes, and travel restrictions in Scotland will remain for "some time yet", Ms Sturgeon has said.

Should I book a holiday in Scotland?

To do so would come with the risk that your holiday could not go ahead and that you might lose some, or all of, the money you had paid towards it. The Scottish Government has yet to confirm any clear dates for the reopening of tourism and, as last year proved, restrictions can change quickly. Nicola Sturgeon has suggested that Scottish residents could see domestic holidays allowed by summer. Residents of England, Wales and Northern Ireland are subject to restrictions on travel in their own country.

The roadmap published by the UK Government puts March 29 as the date at which stay-at-home rules will be lifted in England. However, during this stage, people will still be encouraged to minimise travel. April 12 is the earliest date at which people in England will be permitted to take domestic breaks with their own household. This is when self-catering accommodation in England may be able to reopen.

Restrictions on travel into and around may also have an affect on holidays in Scotland.

While revealing her road map out of lockdown on February 23, the First Minister said it was important that cases of the virus, particularly of new variants of the virus, were not imported into the country.

She said: "In particular we do not want to import new variants of the virus, which could be more resistant to the vaccines that we are currently using."

Read more: When can I go on holiday abroad?