Physical distancing measures are things you should do to reduce how often you interact with others outside your household. This will stop coronavirus (COVID-19) spreading.
These measures are for everyone, including children. They should be used when people are living in their own homes, with or without additional support from friends, family and carers.
Stay home as much as possible
Everyone must stay at home as much as possible as you can spread the virus even if you don’t have symptoms.
- wash your hands with soap and water (or hand sanitiser) when you return home
- stay 2 metres (6 feet) away from other people at all times
- meet up with another household outdoors and in small numbers (no more than 8 people) staying 2 metres apart
- travel by foot, bike or car if you can and avoid non-essential use of public transport
- change your travel times to avoid rush hour
- work from home if you can - your employer should support you to do this
- use phone or online services to contact your GP or other essential services
- meet more than 1 other household each day
- meet anyone with coronavirus symptoms (new continuous cough, fever or loss of, or change in, sense of smell or taste (anosmia))
- have large public gatherings with friends and family - keep in touch using remote technology such as phone, internet, and social media
If parents don’t live together, children under 18 can be moved between their parents’ homes as long as no-one in either household has symptoms.
Read the Scottish Government’s full guidance for staying at home and away from others
Hand washing and respiratory hygiene
To reduce the risk of catching and spreading the virus:
- wash your hands more often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, or use a hand sanitiser
- wash your hands when you get home or into work, when you blow your nose, sneeze or cough, eat or handle food
- avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands
- avoid close contact with people who have symptoms
- cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, throw the tissue in a bin and wash your hands
- clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces in your home
Meeting other households
Your household can meet with another household in small numbers (no more than 8 people) outdoors or in a garden as long as you follow physical distancing and stay 2 metres apart.
You should only meet one other household a day and:
- avoid touching the same surfaces as them
- bring your own food, plates and cutlery if you’re eating together
- don't go indoors
You’re still not able to have larger public gatherings of friends and family.
Exercise, sport and leisure
You can use public outdoor spaces for recreational purposes, for example sitting on benches and sunbathing.
You can exercise outdoors with others in your household as much as you like as long as you stay local and follow physical distancing measures.
You can do non-contact outdoor activities including:
- outdoor swimming
You should only travel if you’re not showing coronavirus symptoms and no-one in your household is self-isolating.
People who’re in the higher risk category should carefully consider how to rigorously follow physical distancing when travelling.
People who are shielding should only travel outside their home for very limited reasons such as essential healthcare.
Travelling for leisure
You can travel short distances for outdoor leisure and exercise but should stay within 5 miles of your local community.
Travel by foot, bike or car where possible and avoid public-transport if you can.
Don't travel to the Scottish islands unless for essential reasons.
Travelling to work
You can only travel to your workplace if you can’t work from home.
You can use public transport (buses, trams, subways or trains) and private/commercial vehicles (car, taxi, minibus or lorry) to travel to and from work. Stay 2 meters apart whenever possible and avoid busier times of travel to ensure you can follow physical distancing
If you need to share a private vehicle with people from other households for an essential journey, try to limit the number of passengers and space out as much as possible.
People from the same household can travel in a private vehicle together in larger numbers for essential journeys.
When sharing a car:
- wash your hands before and after each journey
- catch coughs and sneezes in tissues or cover your mouth and nose with your sleeve or elbow (not your hands), put the tissues in a bin and wash hands immediately
- follow physical distancing as much as possible
- clean vehicles between different drivers or passengers
Schools and childcare
Staff can return to schools to prepare for reopening.
Childminding services and outdoor nurseries will reopen so more families can access essential childcare.
Support will be available to pupils at important milestones such as those due to start their first year of primary or secondary school.
Workers and business owners
You should continue to work from home if you can. If you can’t work from home, your employer is encouraged to stagger start times and flexible working.
Drive-through takeaways, garden centres, plant nurseries and household recycling centres will reopen with physical distancing in place.
Health and social care
Primary and community-based NHS services, including mental health, will reopen and:
- COVID-free GP services will be retained and digital consultations will increase
- the NHS Pharmacy First Scotland service will be rolled out in community pharmacies
- emergency dental hubs will provide more cover as dental practices prepare to reopen
- urgent planned surgery which was previously paused will be restarted
- IVF treatment will be resumed following the approval of The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority
- more emergency eyecare will be provided in the community
Carers and those being cared for
You can get respite and day care if you are an unpaid carer or have a disabled family member as long as you follow physical distancing and hygiene measures.
Visitors may be allowed into care homes.
Higher risk of severe illness
People who are at increased risk of severe illness from coronavirus should strictly follow physical distancing measures.
Their household and other contacts should also strictly follow physical distancing advice.
What is physical distancing?
Physical distancing measures are steps everyone should take to reduce the social interaction between people. This will help reduce the spread of coronavirus.
- Avoid contact with someone who is displaying symptoms of coronavirus (new continuous cough, fever or loss of, or change in, sense of smell or taste (anosmia))
- Stay at home and only go outside for food, health reasons or work (but only if you can’t work from home)
- Stay 2 metres (6 feet) away from other people at all times If you go out
- Wash your hands as soon as you get home
- Do not meet others, even friends or family - if parents don’t live together, children under 18 can be moved between their parents’ homes as long as no-one in either household has symptoms
- Avoid non-essential use of public transport - when possible, alter your travel times to avoid rush hour
- Work from home, where possible - your employer should support you to do this
- Avoid gatherings with friends and family - keep in touch using remote technology such as phone, internet, and social media
- Use phone or online services to contact your GP or other essential services
You can go outside for exercise more than once a day, for example a run, walk or cycle alone or with members of your household. This only applies to exercise – you must not go outside for other activities such as sitting, sunbathing, or outdoor leisure activities like golf or football. You should stay 2 metres (6 feet) away from other people at all times while exercising outside.
Read the Scottish Government’s full guidance for staying at home and away from others
Helpline for vulnerable people
A helpline (0800 111 4000) has been setup for those at increased risk who don’t have a support network, such as family or existing community support.
You can use this service if you:
- can’t get online
- are over 70 years old
- have a disability
- receive mental health support
- are pregnant
- receive a flu jab for health reasons
- are in the shielding group and haven’t received a letter yet
Callers will be connected to their local authority who will help them access the services they need, including:
- essential food and medication
- links to local social work services for vulnerable children or adults
- emotional support
- contact with local volunteer groups
The helpline is open from 9.00am to 5.00pm, Monday to Friday.
Summary of advice
- wash their hands more often
- stay at home for 7 days and arrange to be tested if they have symptoms
- stay at home for 14 days if someone in their household has symptoms
People with serious underlying health conditions must follow shielding measures.