Today (Thursday 18 June) marks 3 weeks since we entered Phase 1 of the Scottish Government’s lockdown exit strategy, and sufficient progress has been made to make the transition into Phase 2.

The following conditions had to be met to begin Phase 2:

  • The virus must be controlled;
  • The R infection rate must be consistently below 1;
  • The 6 World Health Organisation criteria must be in place (including capacities to test, trace and isolate, preventative measures established in workplaces and the risks of exporting and importing cases from communities with high risks of transmission are managed);
  • Any signs of resurgence will be closely monitored as part of enhanced community surveillance but the risk of spreading the virus remains.

Our UK Head of Public Policy is producing advice regarding frequently asked questions for churches across the UK as they plan beyond lockdown. Here we will outline the current changes which are specific to Scotland, and particularly for Scottish churches; akin to our previous article as we entered Phase 1.


Regarding marriages, the Scottish Government has issued the following guidance:

  • They can take place from Monday 29 June;
  • They must take place outdoors;
  • They will have limited numbers in line with outdoor gatherings. This is expected to be a maximum of 8 attendees (couple, minister/​pastor, and 5 other attendees — combined, this can be 3 different households if not shielding). We will link to official guidance once published.
Opening Churches for Individual Prayer

Churches can open for individual prayer from Monday 22 June.

We would encourage churches to risk assess their buildings in the following ways in preparation for openings for private prayer and the (eventual) re-opening for larger-scale services in the future:

  • To establish how many individuals could reasonably be accommodated at a physical distance (2 metres) at once through the use of floor markings, rearranging of furniture and the removal of non-essential items in halls;
  • To work out how to safely and effectively implement a social distanced queue system for both entering and leaving the building and for the use of toilets;
  • To mark off high-risk areas of the building as off-limits (such as small kitchens where it is impossible to physically distance from others);
  • To consider where hygiene stations with hand sanitiser could be placed within or outside church buildings and how to ensure that areas of the building that have been used are cleaned regularly;
  • To consider how best to open for those who are more at risk, such as through advertising set days or times for those aged over 70 or the clinically vulnerable to use the building for private prayer.

If your church operates small external retail units, these can open from Monday 29 June subject to the implementation of guidance from the Scottish Government.

Please note that the following uses of church buildings are still not currently permitted within Phase 2:

  • Corporate worship;
  • Informal prayer meetings;
  • Baptisms;
  • Sunday school;
  • Leisure/​recreational groups;
  • Choir practice;
  • Tourism
Outdoor Ministries

From Friday 19 June, people who are not shielding can now meet with people outdoors from 2 households with a maximum of 8 people in total, with physical distancing in place. This is a limited increase but will allow churches to think creatively about how outdoor discipleship, pastoral care and small support groups (e.g. prayer triplets) can take place. Based on today’s announcement larger small groups will now need to wait until Phase 3.

Furthermore, from Friday 19 June, people who are shielding can leave their home for exercise and meet 1 other household outdoors (maximum of 8 people) with physical distancing. This could also be incorporated into churches’ thinking of how they can continue pastoral ministry.

We would recommend that you look at the guidance on the Scottish Government’s website regarding the practicalities of the new extended household” measures for single people to be incorporated into when meeting with others.

In all circumstances, frequent hand washing/​sanitising should continue as this is the most important preventative measure, and facemasks are recommended (and now mandatory on public transport) to minimise the spread of the virus.

If your church requires any further clarifications or has any questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us. We are working closely with the Scottish Government and will strive to get as much clarity as possible on any specific requests.