Guide to Scotland’s COVID Rules

Updated 1 October 2021

This guide is produced by SCALP to inform activists about the revised Scottish COVID-19 regulations, including certain requirements to wear face coverings and show proof of vaccination.

Note that many of the rules which were in force in the winter of 2020/21 have expired, including those which restricted movement between council areas, banned gatherings and overnight stays with differing ‘levels’ between parts of the country.

This guide does not cover Scotland or the UK’s international travel rules.

Muchísimas Gracias a Minga Indigena por la traducción al español.

Face coverings

There is now a blanket requirement to wear face coverings indoors and on public transport, unless:

  • You have a relevant “physical or mental illness or impairment or disability” or it would cause you “severe distress”.
  • You’re speaking to someone who needs to see your face or lip read.
  • You’re under 12, or it’s a school bus.
  • It’s a cruise-ship, aeroplane, or the outside deck of a ferry.
  • You’re eating, drinking or taking medication.
  • You’re sitting at a table in a venue.
  • It’s a private room in accommodation.
  • It’s not appropriate for the sport or exercise you’re doing.
  • It would be unsafe for you to wear it in the course of your paid work.
  • You’re preparing food and it’s unhygienic.
  • You’re receiving a service such as hairdressing, make-up, tattoos and piercings, photography, massage etc.
  • You’re working or officiating in a venue with a partition in place.
  • You’re at a funeral, marriage or civil partnership and 1-meter distancing is maintained, or you’re the couple.
  • You’re making a speech or performance, or a rehearsal, and there’s a partition or 1-meter distancing.
  • You’re getting or receiving medical help and either in a rush, or it’d be unwise or impractical.
  • You’re a Police Officer, Covid officer or Emergency services, or such a person has told you to remove your face covering.

Proof of vaccination

Beginning in October 2021, nightclubs, venues open after midnight, and ticketed public events will be required to ensure that you can’t enter without either proof of Covid vaccination or proof of exemption from Covid vaccination.

The rules will apply to:

  • Indoor events over 500 people where not everyone is seated.
  • Outdoor events over 4,000 people where not everyone is seated.
  • All events over 10,000 people, seated and not.

However, many kinds of events are not included in these rules, including:

  • Marriages, civil partnerships and funerals, and associated parties
  • Organised runs and charity walks
  • Cinema screenings
  • Private business events and conferences
  • Street markets
  • Religious workshop
  • “An unticketed event held at an outdoor public place with no fixed entry points”: this is intended to make protests and rallies exempt

What can police officers do?

If an event or venue isn’t complying with the rules a police officer can:

  • Direct any person in the gathering to return home.
  • Direct a gathering to disperse.
  • Bring any person in the gathering home. 

Police officers may use ‘reasonable’ force when exercising their powers. 

Police or Local Authority Coronavirus officers may also enter your house without permission if they deem the situation “urgent”, and may use force to do so.

Police may only stop and search you if you are suspected of committing certain crimes such as possession of drugs or theft. They must have good reason to suspect you and must state the specific crime they suspect you of.

Interacting with police

Ask: “What power?”

Ask police officers what legislation they are using, and if they are requesting or demanding you to do something.

Write Down: ID Number and Notes

If you feel like a police officer is acting unreasonably ask for their identification number and write it down. It should be displayed on their shoulder pads. 

Make a detailed note of what happened and what was said. This will help you if you or the police take matters further.

Being issued a fine

If you don’t comply with the Coronavirus rules, or with an instruction by a police officer, you can be issued a fine called a ‘Fixed Penalty Notice’ (FPN).

FPN gives you the choice: either pay a fine and avoid any further liability or face a potential criminal charge and conviction. If you receive an FPN, you have 28 days to decide whether you want to contest it. If you want to challenge an FPN, you should seek legal advice immediately. If it is your first FPN it is £30 to pay within 28 days or £60 after that. The penalties rise rapidly with each subsequent FPN up to a maximum of £960.


Say “no comment”

You must give your name, address, date and place of birth and nationality if you are arrested. You DON’T have to say anything else. (We recommend that you say ‘no comment’ in response to any other questions asked.)

You will be searched, and your possessions taken away. If you are under 16 the police will contact your parent(s) or guardian(s). The police can photograph and fingerprint you and take a DNA sample without your consent. 

Your rights under arrest

  • To be told you are under arrest and what offence you are being suspected of.
  • To be told that you have the right to remain silent.
  • To contact a solicitor (including to speak privately to a solicitor before any questioning by the police begins and to have a solicitor attend any questioning with you).
  • Have a friend or relative contacted.
  • To see a doctor if you are sick or hurt.
  • To receive vegan, halal or kosher food.
  • To a translator if English is not your first language.

About this guide

This guide is produced and maintained by SCALP members. It is free to use and republish, and we encourage people to share it widely.

This guide is based on SCALP’s legal research, specifically the The Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Requirements) (Scotland) Regulations 2021, see here, and correct according to the changes that came into force on 1 October 2021.