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Old Man of Storr, Isle of Syke
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Are holidays in Scotland allowed?

There are currently strict travel restrictions across parts of Scotland, and a ban on travel in and out of Scotland is on the cards

Ellie Walker-Arnott

Around the world, travel rules and border restrictions have continued to change this year, which means a lot of people have decided to swerve overseas travel altogether this year. This summer saw a lot of people exploring closer to home, and choosing a trip to Scotland over somewhere further afield. But now we’re entering the colder months, things have changed once again. 

So are holidays or visiting friends and family in Scotland allowed right now? Well, no, not really.  

Man walking down cobbled Edinburgh street
Photograph: Shutterstock

As England prepared to enter a second national lockdown in early November, Scotland’s first minister Nicola Sturgeon said: ‘People should not travel to or from level 3 areas in Scotland and for now, we are asking people not to travel to or from England at all, except for essential purposes.’ And, anyway, while England remains under lockdown, non-essential travel, holidays and overnight stays (asides from if they are essential and work-related) are banned (until December 2 at the earliest.)

Even without England’s lockdown there are restrictions in place that would affect any travel. Scotland is currently using a new five tier system (Levels 0 - 4). Level 0 is the level with the least restrictions, though no areas are currently in this tier. 

Accommodation options are open in Level 1 and Level 2 areas, though people are currently not allowed to visit other households indoors. That means, if you live in a low risk area in Scotland you could go away for a trip but you can’t stay in a friend’s house, for example. In Level 2 areas, restaurants, cafes, bars, public houses must only serve alcohol with a main meal and indoor premises must close by 8pm. 

In Level 3 areas, accommodation is open but must only be used by people local to the area, while all tourism-related businesses must close in Level 4 areas. 

Scotland have introduced legally-enforceable travel bans, which means people could be fined by the police if they travel in or out of council areas in Level 3 or 4 for non-essential reasons. As of November 20, areas in Level 3 or 4 include: Edinburgh, Glasgow, Angus, Clackmannanshire, Dundee, East Ayrshire, East DunbartonshireEast Lothian (moving to Level 2 on November 24), East Renfrewshire, Falkirk, Fife, InverclydeMidlothian (moving to Level 2 on November 24), North Ayrshire, North Lanarkshire, Perth and Kinross, Renfrewshire, South Ayrshire, South Lanarkshire, Stirling, West Dunbartonshire and West Lothian. 

The Scottish government has also proposed regulations that would make it illegal for people to enter or leave the country without a reasonable excuse. According to The Guardian, the regulations would mean ‘a person living in Scotland must not travel to any other part of the common travel area – England, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland – nor can anyone from those places travel to Scotland. Breach of these cross-border restrictions is punishable by a minimum £60 fixed penalty fine.’

Basically, sipping whisky in an Edinburgh boozer will have to wait until next year. 

Want to know when you can travel overseas? Here’s what we know so far

Planning a camping trip for 2021? Here’s where you can wild camp in the UK


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