The Scottish Government has moved forward its timetable for removing restrictions across Scotland, which will see most of mainland Scotland move to level 2 on 17 May. This is a significant shift from earlier plans that follow successes in the nation’s vaccination programme.

From Monday, all areas of mainland Scotland, with the exception of Moray and Glasgow due to their high COVID-19 rate, will move to the second level of the Scottish Government’s Five-Tier system. Glasgow and Moray will remain in the third level of restrictions whilst several Scottish islands will move to the first level of restrictions. To check the restrictions in your area, see the Scottish Government’s postcode checker.

For churches, the shift to level two means a change in restrictions around worship; singing, chanting, and the playing of any instrument in small groups will be allowed under levels 0 – 2. Please note, the Scottish Government makes clear the distinction between singing etc. for small groups versus congregational singing, the possibility of lifting restrictions on congregational singing for levels one and zero is currently under review. This change means that a worship band or group of singers could perform worship music from the front of church, but does not mean that the congregation could also sing.

Recent changes to the places of worship guidance in all restriction levels have seen the cap on attendees removed; the Scottish Government has advised that the number of people in a church building is now dependant on capacity when social distancing is in place rather than a mandatory limit. 

It’s advisable that churches and congregations read the changes in guidance that do not specifically relate to places of worship, as there’s potential to gather in small numbers outside of the church building. 

Under level two restrictions, up to six people from three different households can meet inside a private home; food and utensils should not be shared between different households, but there is no need to socially distance the entire time. Similarly, up to eight people from eight different households can meet outside under the second level of restrictions. When meeting inside or outside, children under 12 don’t count towards this limit. This offers potential for small groups to meet beyond church buildings. 


Please continue to check our Scottish COVID-19 church hub for church guidance developments as well as the Scottish Government’s new framework and coronavirus guidance. For more details on church restrictions at level two, see the Scottish Government’s level 2 guidance and the Scottish Government places of worship guidance.

For any questions on government restrictions and guidance for places of worship in Scotland, you can email
c.​fox@​eauk.​org or scotland@​eauk.​org