On the 2nd November, the Scottish Government’s new COVID protection levels was introduced as part of Phase 3 in Scotland’s route map for moving out of lockdown. The 5-tier system sets out rules and guidelines for different local areas based on their number of cases and hospital capacity. The baseline, or level 0, features the lowest restrictions whilst level 4 has the highest.

It is particularly important to note that as things stand worship gatherings are permitted under every level of the new system, albeit with reduced numbers in level 4. This is a very welcome development and one we have advocated for with the Scottish Government. In addition, there is a travel exemption for people to travel to their normal place of worship in level 3 which is currently relevant for churches in large parts of Scotland. The Scottish Government’s guidance for places of worship has now been updated to reflect these developments.

For a more detailed look at the personal restrictions present at each level, see the relevant guidance for each level. Please also continue to check the Evangelical Alliance’s latest advice and FAQs for up-to-date information.

You can find out what COVID protection level your local area is under using the Scottish Government’s postcode checker.

Level 0

Level 0, or baseline’ restrictions are the least restrictive of the five levels. In areas under level 0 restrictions, up to 8 people from up to 3 households can meet to socialise in an indoor setting and this is increased to up to 15 people from up to 5 households when outdoors.

For churches, there is an attendance cap of 50 (subject to building capacity) and similarly a cap of 50 for weddings, funerals, and receptions events. Outdoor worship events can take place for up to 200 people (subject to outdoor live event guidance).

Level 1

Under level 1 restrictions, up to 6 people from up to 2 households can meet to socialise in an outdoor setting, however indoor socialising is not currently permitted in level 1.

For churches the attendance cap of 50 people remains, as does the 200 person limit on outdoor worship events. Weddings, funerals, and reception events may take place with up to 20 people.

Level 2

For areas under level 2 restrictions, up to 6 people from up to 2 households can meet to socialise in an outdoor setting and no indoor socialising is permitted.

For churches the attendance cap of 50 people remains but no outdoor worship can take place. Weddings, funerals, and reception events may go ahead with up to 20 people.

Level 3

Under level 3 restrictions, up to 6 people from up to 2 households can meet to socialise in an outdoor setting and again no indoor socialising is permitted.

For churches, the attendance cap of 50 people remains and weddings, funerals and other life events can take place with up to 20 people.

Travel to and from areas under level 3 is restricted with exceptions for essential travel’. Notably, this exception allows travel to and from level 3 areas to attend your normal place of worship, attend weddings, funerals, and other life events, as well as for church leaders to attend their place of worship. For more detailed guidance on travel see the Scottish Government’s updated guidance on travel and transport.

Level 4

For areas under level 4 restrictions, up to 6 people from up to 2 households can continue to meet to socialise in an outdoor setting and no indoor socialising is permitted. All non-essential retail is closed as well as all public transport.

Church attendance is limited to 20 people; up to 15 people may attend a wedding and up to 20 people may attend other life events.

Travel to and from areas under level 4 is restricted with exceptions for essential travel’. Notably, this exception allows travel to and from level 4 areas to attend weddings, funerals and other life events as well as for church leaders to attend their place of worship.

Please note, travel is not permitted to and from a level 4 area to attend your normal place of worship.

Other Activities

It is important to state that guidance for other activities which take place in church buildings may also have changed as a result of the new system. Links to some of the relevant guidance can be found here:

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