Coronavirus (COVID-19) Advice for Travellers to the South of Scotland

by Scotland Starts Here, 19th March 2020
Gladhouse Reservoir | Penicuik.
Coronavirus (COVID-19) Advice for Travellers to the South of Scotland

Last updated: Monday, 4 January 2021

Please check below for official Scottish and UK guidance on COVID-19 (coronavirus) for travellers, as well as resources for travelling safely within Dumfries & Galloway, the Scottish Borders and Midlothian. The health and safety of visitors and residents is of paramount importance, and we want to share ongoing advice.


Key Information

  • From midnight 4 January 2021, Scotland will enter a national lockdown until the end of January to prevent the spread of coronavirus. Stay safe and stay home.
  • You should not leave your local area and stay close to home.
  • Check directly with venues, businesses and attractions for up to date information on closures and restrictions, as they will likely close.
  • The latest information on COVID-19 can be found on the Scottish Government website 
  • Travellers already in the UK who need medical advice can use the 111 online service to get further information

Will coronavirus impact my travels to the South of Scotland? 

Current advice is not to travel and to stay home. The current restrictions are likely to impact on travel plans, which should be kept to essential trips only.

Additionally, the Scottish Government has introduced a system of COVID protection levels for leaving lockdown. Each area in Scotland is assigned a local protection level from 0 to 4, with varying restrictions. Check below for current restrictions in the South of Scotland. These will be reassessed regularly. Restrictions for other areas are available on the Scottish Government website

Non-essential retail and hospitality businesses across Scotland will close from Boxing Day, and all travel across the country should be minimised to essential trips only. Keep in mind that additionally, businesses may set an individual reopening schedule after this period, change their opening times or introduce a reduced offer. Restrictions also apply to events, which may therefore be cancelled or postponed. Always check ahead before travelling.  

Stay informed. Here’s what you need to know:

Social distancing:

  • Practice social distancing: Keep a 2-meter distance from anyone outside of your household.
  • This may be reduced to a 1-meter distancing rule for businesses that have taken additional safety and hygiene measures.

Face coverings:

  • Wearing a face covering is mandatory in shops, on public transport and in all indoor tourism and hospitality spaces when not sitting down for food and drink. 
  • There are exceptions for some health conditions and children under 5. 

Covid Levels:

Lockdown – applies to all areas
  • Socialising: no in-home socialising with members outside your household. You can meet a maximum of 1 person from another household outdoors.
  • Hospitality: closed.
  • Accommodation: essential only, eg for work.
  • Visitor Attractions: closed.
  • Travel: no non-essential travel. Stay home and stay safe.
  • Shopping: Only for basic necessities, as infrequently as possible
  • Transport: Avoid use of public transport, except essential purposes.
  • Stadia & Events: No events permitted.
  • Leisure & Entertainment: closed.
  • Outdoors exercise is allowed, including running, walking, or cycling alone or with members of your household. However, a 5-mile travel limit applies.
Level 4
  • Socialising: no in-home socialising, 6 people from 2 households outdoors and in public places.
  • Hospitality: closed, apart from within hotels.
  • Accommodation: essential only, eg for work.
  • Visitor Attractions: closed.
  • Travel: no non-essential travel into or out of this area. Limits on travel distance or a requirement to stay at home are possible. Exemptions for essential work, education, shopping, health, outdoor exercise, weddings and funerals, and transit through to other areas.
  • Transport: No use of public transport, except essential purposes.
  • Shopping: closed apart from click and collect.
  • Stadia & Events: No events permitted. Stadia closed to spectators.
  • Leisure & Entertainment: closed.
Level 3
  • Socialising: no in-home socialising, 6 people from 2 households outdoors and in public places.
  • Hospitality: no alcohol on-sale outdoors or indoors. Open for food only until 6pm.
  • Accommodation: non-essential use only by locals encouraged. Essential work-related use allowed.
  • Visitor Attractions: all open or outdoor only open, depending on circumstances.
  • Travel: no non-essential travel into or out of this area. Exemptions for essential work, education, shopping, health, outdoor exercise, weddings and funerals, and transit through to other areas.
  • Transport: Avoid non-essential use of public transport.
  • Shopping: open.
  • Stadia & Events: No events permitted. Stadia closed to spectators.
  • Leisure & Entertainment: closed.
Level 2
  • Socialising: no in-home socialising, 6 people from 2 households outdoors and in public places.
  • Hospitality: can sell alcohol and food indoors until 8pm and outdoors until 10.30pm.
  • Accommodation: open.
  • Visitor Attractions: open.
  • Travel: no non-essential travel to or from areas in Level 3. Exemptions for essential work, education, shopping, health, outdoor exercise, weddings and funerals, and transit through to other areas.
  • Shopping: open.
  • Stadia & Events: Only drive-in events permitted. Stadia closed to spectators.
  • Leisure & Entertainment: only cinemas and amusement arcades open.
Level 1
  • Socialising: no in-home socialising, 6 people from 2 households outdoors and in public places.
  • Hospitality: can sell alcohol and food indoors and outdoors. Time restrictions are possible, and premises must be closed by 10.30pm.
  • Accommodation: open.
  • Visitor Attractions: open.
  • Travel: no non-essential travel to or from areas in Level 3. Exemptions for essential work, education, shopping, health, outdoor exercise, weddings and funerals, and transit through to other areas.
  • Shopping: open.
  • Stadia & Events: outdoor and stadia events (seated and ambulatory) are permitted with restricted numbers. Indoor events (seated) are permitted with restricted numbers.
  • Leisure & Entertainment: open apart from nightclubs.
Level 0
  • Socialising: 8 people from three households indoors, 15 people from 5 households outdoors.
  • Hospitality: can sell alcohol and food indoors and outdoors. Time restrictions are possible.
  • Accommodation: open.
  • Visitor Attractions: open.
  • Travel: no non-essential travel to or from areas in Level 3. Exemptions for essential work, education, shopping, health, outdoor exercise, weddings and funerals, and transit through to other areas.
  • Shopping: open
  • Stadia & Events: outdoor and stadia events are permitted with restricted numbers. Indoor events (seated and ambulatory) are permitted with restricted numbers.
  • Leisure & Entertainment: open apart from nightclubs.

Additional notes:

  • There are exceptions to the indoor household restrictions for those who live alone, non-cohabiting couples, childcare and tradespeople.
  • Children under 12 do not count towards group size limits.
  • Make sure to keep a 2 m distance from anyone outside your household. This doesn’t apply to children under 12.

What’s open:

Non-essential businesses are closed, and this also applies to operators and businesses in the Scottish tourism industry. No non-essential travel should be undertaken. Whatever your plans, please make sure you stay safe and follow official Covid level guidelines as well as businesses’ individual Covid guidelines.

  • Accommodation: for essential workers only
  • Food & Drink: Cafés, restaurants, pubs and bars will close. However, take-away or delivery may be available on an individual basis under adherence to applicable Covid guidelines.

When you travel:

  • Know before you go: Follow guidance from the government and individual businesses. Check directly with businesses for restrictions and guidance before you travel.
  • Download the Protect Scotland app for free from the App Store or Google Play Store. The app will alert you if you have been in close contact with another user who has tested positive for coronavirus. As it works anonymously through Bluetooth, your privacy is protected.
  • Look out for the Good to Go scheme logo. It shows if a business has carried out a Covid-19 risk assessment. Businesses will also be able to tell you what safety measure will be in place when you visit.
  • Respect, Protect, Enjoy: Please be considerate of local communities when travelling. Protect yourself and others by following health and safety guidelines. Support your local tourism industry and consider exploring off the beaten path if a place gets too busy.
  • If you explore the outdoors, whether on foot, by bike, or even on the water, please respect our landscapes. The Scottish Outdoor Access Code applies all year-round and offers great advice on how to enjoy our places safely.

If you develop symptoms:

  • If you develop Covid-19 symptoms while on holiday in Scotland, please self-isolate in your accommodation and follow the advice from the Scottish Government.

Travel between Scotland and the rest of the UK will not be legal during lockdown. Visitors from certain countries can travel to Scotland but may need to quarantine on arrival. Check if this applies to you with the full list of countries who can travel to Scotland. You will need to provide contact and journey details during your travels.

When travelling to and around Scotland, you may encounter transport disruptions or new guidelines. Check with your car rental company for any additional information you may need. Further information and current schedules for public transport networks in the Lothians and the Scottish Borders are available from ScotRail, Lothian Buses and Borders Buses

Always make sure you stay up to date with the latest official government advice.


Further Information

  • We must all do our part in preventing the transmission of COVID-19, and it is crucial to follow guidance on preventative measures. Visit the NHS website for information on how to keep yourself and others safe, as well as frequently asked questions. 
  • Up to date advice for tourism businesses is available through the Scottish Tourism Association (STA) and VisitScotland. MBTAG are also offering support to businesses in Dumfries & Galloway, the Scottish Borders and Midlothian.
  • Visit the official UK government website for additional up to date information on safety measures, support for businesses and advice for travellers.