On Tuesday, 17 March, the Scottish Government outlined its roadmap to exiting lockdown in further detail, with the First Minister setting out what restrictions are to be eased between now and June.

12 March

Outdoor youth work activities for under 18’s, with a maximum of 15 individuals (including two facilitators) can resume, this should be restricted to your locality and have the appropriate social distancing measures in place. Outdoor parent and toddler groups for children age five and under can also resume, with a maximum of 15 adults present. This includes facilitators however there is no limit to under fives who can attend. More detail about this can be found in the COVID – 19 guiding framework for youthwork and the COVID – 19 organised activities for children documents. We will update our COVID-19 church hub as we get more developments on this.

26 March

In last week’s briefing, Nicola Sturgeon announced that church worship gatherings will be permitted to resume from Friday, 26 March. From this date, provided COVID-19 precautions are in place, communal worship can resume with a limit of up to 50 people at each gathering. Our COVID-19 church hub will be updated as we get new advice on best practice for services.

Travel to and from a level four area to attend a regular place of worship is not allowed, it is still illegal to leave your local authority area, even if it is in the same protection level. Ministers of religion are exempt from this, as are those traveling for weddings or funerals. For more travel advice see the Government’s COVID-19 guidance on travel publication. 

2 April

The stay at home’ rule will be lifted and replaced by stay local’ for three weeks, with the advice not to travel outside your own local authority area unless for an essential purpose. As announced last week, people will continue to be able to meet outdoors, including in private gardens in groups of no more than four from two households.

5 April

Contact sports can resume for 12- to 17-year-olds, students will be allowed to return to on-campus learning (with the priority being for those in higher education studying a practical course such as construction or hairdressing). There will be a phased reopening of non-essential retail including homeware stores, car showrooms and garden centres and it is expected that barbers and hairdressers will reopen for appointments.

In the middle of April, all nine of the priority groups are set to have been vaccinated. This would be the majority of the adult population and, importantly, would account for the most vulnerable, who have made up 99 per cent of all COVID-19-related deaths. Provided this vaccination milestone is reached, and allowing a few weeks for the vaccine to take effect, the following steps to ease restrictions will take place:


26 April


All parts of Scotland currently in level four will move down to a modified level three and all restrictions on journeys within Scotland will be lifted entirely. The islands will have an option to move down to level two and discussion will be had with island communities on the movement of people between the islands and mainland Scotland.

Journeys between Scotland and the rest of the UK will also be lifted, if not on the 26 of April, then as soon as possible thereafter. This is to be kept under review in order to suppress the number of new cases being brought into Scotland. Looking at international travel, it is not believed that this will be possible before 17 May or for a further period after that. This is in line with the UK government and will be reviewed.

Restrictions on outdoor socialising will also be eased. Six people from three households will be able to meet outdoors, 12- to 17-year-olds will be able to meet outdoors with up to six people from six households. Mainland travel restrictions will no longer be in place. Socialising inside houses would not be eased at this stage, but this is under continual review.


The hospitality sector will begin to reopen, with cafes, restaurants and bars now able to serve people outdoors in groups of six from up to three households until 10pm. There is indication that indoor service will also restart, with a limit of four people from two households until 8pm.


Other changes from 26 April will include the reopening of all remaining retail premises, as well as tourist accommodation, museums, galleries and indoor gyms (for individual exercise). Construction work in individual homes can resume, as can driving lessons, and the number of attendees at weddings and funerals will be raised to 50 people.

Finally, those that have been on the shielding list can return to work, children and young people on the list can return to school or nursery as well as students who can return to college or university.

The effects of these re-openings will be monitored over a three-week window, bringing us to mid-May. As usual, the following depends on the continued suppression of case numbers. Precise detail of the easing of these restrictions will be released nearer the time.

17 May

From this date, all level three areas that can do will move to level two and the following restrictions will lift:

• Restrictions on indoor hospitality will be eased, alcohol will be served again and during more normal hours.

• Adult outdoor contact sports and indoor group exercises can resume.

• Cinemas, amusement arcades and bingo halls will reopen.

• Small scale outdoor an indoor event can restart, capacity limits will be confirmed after discussions with the events sector.

• Colleges and universities are to return to a blended model of learning from mid-May, allowing more students to be on campus.

• Face-to-face support services and non-professional performance arts can resume.

• Last but not least, unless it can be approved earlier, from this date, groups of four people from two households can meet inside each other’s homes again. This is in line with English restrictions, and again, will be under continual review.


The First Minister’s speech finished on a cautious but optimistic note, stating that provided the continued success of the vaccination program, it is her hope that by early June, Scotland would move down to level one, and then, by the end of the month, level zero. Even these levels will still involve us living with some safety measures, but the government is aiming for life to look much more normal by this point in the summer.

We at the Evangelical alliance are also optimistic, optimistic because we see that as we come out of this lockdown the Government is recognising the importance of church in society and therefore resuming communal worship so soon. We will continue to engage with the government on what the route out of lockdown will look like for churches in Scotland and in the meantime please read our Scottish COVID-19 church hub for church guidance developments as well as the Scottish Government’s new framework and coronavirus guidance for future updates.

As always if you have any questions or would benefit from any further advice, please do not hesitate to get in touch with the Evangelical Alliance team in Scotland by emailing: scotland@​eauk.​org