Level 2 Scotland: what are the new tier 2 Covid restrictions and rules coming into place on 17 May?

Mainland Scotland will move into Level 2 from Monday, with the possible exception of Moray and some island communities which will go into Level 1

A greater return to normal is on the horizon for Scotland as Nicola Sturgeon has confirmed that the mainland will move into Level 2 Covid restrictions on Monday 17 May.

Level 3 rules were introduced on 26 April, which permitted indoor and outdoor cafes and restaurants to reopen, as well as non-essential shops, gyms and the resumption of the domestic tourism industry.

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A move to Level 2 means even more restrictions will be relaxed, from socialising indoors and overnight stays to alcohol being sold inside pubs and restaurants and the reopening of cinemas.

Cinemas, indoor exercise classes and gatherings inside homes with friends and family will be permitted in Level 2 (Shutterstock)Cinemas, indoor exercise classes and gatherings inside homes with friends and family will be permitted in Level 2 (Shutterstock)
Cinemas, indoor exercise classes and gatherings inside homes with friends and family will be permitted in Level 2 (Shutterstock)

The welcome change in rules is down to the “continued suppression of the virus”, the First Minister said, as she made her announcement on Tuesday 11 May.

Here are all the things you are permitted to do in Level 2.

Which areas will move into Level 2?

The whole of mainland Scotland will move to Level 2 with the possible exception of Moray, which is witnessing a high and increasing number of cases.

A final decision will be made at the end of this week to see if the area will stay in Level 3 for a further period.

Meanwhile, as the Covid situation is under control in some island communities, they will move down to Level 1 on 17 May, which includes lower restrictions than Level 2.

Those areas are Orkney, Shetland, Na h-Eileanan Siar, all islands in the Highland region, except Skye, and some islands in Argyll and Bute including Coll, Colonsay, Erraid, Gometra, Iona, Islay, Jura, Mull, Oronsay, Tiree and Ulva.

What can I do in Level 2?

A significant reopening of the economy took place on 26 April when the whole of mainland Scotland moved into Level 3.

That change saw the reopening of hospitality venues, like cafes, pubs and restaurants, until 8pm indoors with no alcohol and 10pm outdoors with alcohol.

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Indoor gyms and swimming pools were able to reopen as well as tourist accommodation, museums, galleries and libraries.

The Level 2 rules are even more relaxed, with the following measures coming into place on 17 May:

Indoor and outdoor gatherings

A notable change to the planned easing of restrictions on the 17th is that indoor gatherings will now be allowed for up to six people from three households, and overnight stays are permitted.

Previously, it was planned that only four people from two households would be able to meet indoors.

Significantly, when family and friends meet indoors or in private gardens, hugging will be allowed and it will no longer be necessary to maintain physical distancing.

As well as those welcome changes, from 17 May Scots will also be able to meet with up to eight adults from eight households outside. Children under 12 do not count towards the total number of people.

Pubs and restaurants

More restrictions on indoor hospitality will also be relaxed, with alcohol served in pubs and restaurants.

There will be an updated curfew of 10:30pm with two-hour booking slots for a maximum of six people from three households.

Indoor entertainment venues

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Furthermore, indoor entertainment venues, such as cinemas, theatres, concert halls, comedy clubs, bingo halls and amusement arcades, will be able to reopen.


Indoor group exercises will be able to resume, as well as adult outdoor contact sports.

Personal training and coaching is allowed, too.

Outdoor and indoor events

When it comes to events starting back up, up to 100 people will be allowed to attend indoors, while the limit is increased to 250 at an outdoor standing event and 500 at an outdoor event with seating.

Universities and colleges

More students will be able to go back to university or college with blended learning implemented.

Face-to-face support services, like counselling, can go ahead.

International travel

From 17 May, a traffic light system, similar to the one introduced in England, will be implemented.

Those returning to Scotland from red list countries will have to isolate in a government-approved hotel, while those coming from amber list destinations will need to self isolate at home and take two PCR tests.

People arriving from green list countries will not need to quarantine but will need to take a PCR test shortly after arrival.

The twelve countries on the green list are the same as those announced for England - including Portugal and Gibraltar.

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