Large areas of Scotland will have new rules and guidance in place from Friday, 20 November, heavily restricting travel (including to places of worship), worship service capacity, and wedding/funeral sizes.

It is important to note that in-person church services can continue under level 4 restrictions. There are, however, limitations on attendance and travel to such services; please read on for further detail.

On Tuesday, 17 November, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced that 11 areas would be placed under level 4 restrictions starting from Friday, 20 November at 6pm. These areas include the City of Glasgow, North Lanarkshire, South Lanarkshire, West Dunbartonshire, East Dunbartonshire, Renfrewshire, East Renfrewshire, East Ayrshire, South Ayrshire, Stirling, and West Lothian.

Additionally, two areas – East Lothian and Midlothian – will have their restrictions eased on Tuesday, 24 November when they will move from level 3 to level 2.

You can find out what COVID protection level your local area has using the Scottish Government’s postcode checker. For a more detailed look at the personal restrictions present at each level, see the relevant Scottish Government guidance for each level.

General restrictions

Under level 4 restrictions, up to six people from up to two households are able to socialise in an outdoor setting and no indoor socialising is permitted. 

All non-essential shopping, hospitality and other services are closed. Additionally, all public transport will no longer be able to operate. Schools, essential services and churches will remain open in level 4 areas.

Travel

In levels 0 – 3 people are able to travel between local authorities in order to attend church services; this is not the case under level 4 restrictions. There are travel restrictions in place on travelling into or out of your local area, except for certain essential journeys. For additional information on this please refer to the Scottish Government’s guidance for travel and transport.

Notably for churches, exemption to these travel restrictions are in place for the lead pastor, worship leader and staff required in order to broadcast a service. Additionally, travel is permitted to and from level 4 areas to attend weddings, funerals and other life events.

Church services, weddings and funerals

Church services can continue in level 4 but at a reduced capacity. A maximum of 20 people may attend a church service; this is subject to building capacity and social distancing. 

Up to 20 people may attend a wedding or a funeral in a level 4 area, but receptions should not take place. Please note that travel to a wedding, funeral or other life event is permitted across the whole of Scotland.

Other church activities

Guidance for other activities undertaken in church buildings may be different if your area is moving to level 4 restrictions. 

Links to some of the relevant guidance can be found here:

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to get in touch with the Evangelical Alliance team by emailing: scotland@eauk.org