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Wedding and funeral rules

Wedding and funeral rules change from 28 June

Nicola Sturgeon has announced a number of changes next week, for wedding and funeral rules to other celebrations.

Aim to lift all major restrictions on 9 August.

The whole of Scotland will move to Level 0 on 19 July if all necessary vaccination and harm reduction measures are met.

Current levels will remain in place for the next three weeks with a review taking place on 13 July although some changes, such as minor relaxations to rules on events such as weddings and funerals will come into place on 28 June.

During a statement to Parliament, Nicola Sturgeon also confirmed that from 19 July physical distancing outdoors will be removed and physical distancing for indoor public areas will reduce to one metre if the data allows. Limits on outdoor gatherings will also be removed on this date, given the reduced risk of outdoor transmission at this stage in the vaccination programme.

If the necessary conditions on vaccination and harm reduction continue to be met, all major remaining COVID restrictions will be lifted on 9 August.

Nicola Sturgeon said:

“From 19 July, and then more substantially, from 9 August – assuming we are meeting our revised strategic aim of alleviating the harm of the virus – life should feel much less restricted for all of us.

“A very significant degree of normality will be restored – for individuals and for businesses. As I said earlier, these are indicative dates, but they allow us to plan ahead with more clarity. As always, we all have a part to play in keeping us on track.

“Up until now, the Scottish Government’s strategic intention has been to ‘suppress the virus to the lowest possible level and keep it there’. From now, our aim will be to ‘suppress the virus to a level consistent with alleviating its harms while we recover and rebuild for a better future.

“This change reflects the fact that vaccination is reducing – we hope significantly – the harm that the virus causes.

“Physical distancing has been an important mitigation against the virus, but it is also burdensome for individuals and costly for businesses. So as vaccinations bear more of the load of controlling the virus, we need to consider when and to what extent we can reduce the legal requirement for it.

“Ultimately we hope to remove the legal requirement for physical distancing – even though we may continue to advise people to think about safe distancing when interacting with people outside their close contact groups.”

Wedding and funeral rules
Wedding and funeral rules

Wedding and funeral rules

From 28 June  

  • suppliers and others employed at a wedding will no longer count towards the cap on attendance
  • A bride, groom and other designated persons accompanying them no longer require to wear face-coverings when walking down the aisle
  • live entertainment will be permitted at weddings
  • more than one household will be permitted to carry the coffin and/or take a cord at a funeral crematoriums and churches can relay funeral services to outside areas

From 19 July

  • celebrations of life events such as christenings, bar mitzvahs and anniversaries will be permitted to take place under similar guidelines as weddings and funerals
  • different households will be able to share a bedroom in tourist accommodation

Some measures are expected to continue beyond Level 0 including:

  • good hand hygiene and surface cleaning
  • continued promotion of good ventilation
  • a requirement for face coverings in certain settings (e.g. public transport and retail)
  • continued compliance with Test and Protect, including self-isolation when necessary
  • an ongoing need for outbreak management capability, including active surveillance
  • a greater degree of working from home than pre COVID-19 where this is possible and appropriate based on business and employee choice

The next review of restrictions will be on 13 July ahead of proposed changes commencing on 19 July.

Scotland roads

Scotland roads, ancient and perhaps the most intriguing.

Scotland has many ancient roads, and perhaps the most intriguing are the coffin Scotland roads.

The coffin Scotland roads were often just rough tracks through glens and mountains, but they were vital for transporting the bodies of the deceased from remote locations to consecrated ground for burial.

Some can still be traced today, one such road is St Edderens way, which traverses Aberdeenshire’s Mormond Hill between the villages of Strichen and Rathen.

The corpse were transported over the hill from Strichen to Rathen, as Strichen did not have a kirk or cemetery when it was built. Mormond Hill itself is a place steeped in myth and legend, one one side is a giant white horse made of stone, on the other side a giant white stag

On top of the hill stands the ruin of a hunting lodge, the date stone bears the legend “Rob Gibb commands 1779” Rob Gibb was Charles the Second’s court jester and it’s thought the inscription is a veiled Jacobite toast to the Stuart dynasty.

On the coffin road are many ancient sites of interest, in particular the Resting Cairn, where the coffins of the deceased were rested on the stones until the pall bearers felt refreshed enough to continue their journey.

Perhaps the greatest enigma of a Mormond Hill is that some historians have theorised that it may be considered as the site of the fabled battle of Mons Graupius between The Picts and the Romans.

I make no such claim, Mons Graupius has been attributed to locations all over Scotland !

All the photographs are mine.

Author Kenny Bruce

Coronavirus Scotland

Coronavirus Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon statement on 15 June 2021

Statement given by the FM Nicola Sturgeon on Tuesday 15 June 2021, about Coronavirus Scotland.

The easing of Coronavirus Scotland restrictions is likely to be pushed back by three weeks, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said.

The whole country had been due to move to the lowest level zero of its five-tier system from 28 June.

However Ms Sturgeon told MSPs that this was likely to be be delayed by three weeks so that more people can be vaccinated against the virus.

The Coronavirus Scotland case rate is five times higher than it was in early May.

Ms Sturgeon said that “we need to buy sufficient time for vaccination to get ahead and stay ahead of the virus, and that is the reason for caution at this juncture”.

She added: “Doing that will give us the best chance, later in July, of getting back on track and restoring the much greater normality that we all crave”.

Coronavirus Scotland
Coronavirus Scotland

First Minister Statement:

Thank you Presiding Officer.

At the outset today, I want to confirm that there will be no changes this week to the Covid levels of protection that currently apply to different parts of the country

I will say more about that later, and also look ahead to the more substantive three weekly review that I will set out to Parliament a week today – which is as scheduled ahead of the 28 June, when the next scheduled change, and a move to level 0 for the whole country, was expected to take place.

Firstly, though, I will give a general summary of the current course of the pandemic, starting with today’s statistics.

The total number of cases that were reported yesterday was 974, which is 5% of the total number of tests. That means the overall number of confirmed cases is now 248,515.

137 people are currently in hospital – which is nine more than the number yesterday. And 17 people are receiving intensive care right now. And that is the same number as reported yesterday.

I also regret to say that two further deaths were reported yesterday.

Coronavirus Scotland
Coronavirus Scotland

That takes the total number of deaths registered, under the daily definition, to 7,683.

And once again, I want to send my condolences to everyone who has been bereaved over the course of the pandemic.

I will also provide an update on the vaccination programme.

However, because of a technical issue at Public Health Scotland this morning, I would ask members to note that the figures I am about to give are likely to under-report yesterday’s vaccination performance.

However, on the basis of the information I do have at this stage, I can confirm that as of 7.30 this morning, 3,531,461 people had received their first dose of the vaccine, which is an increase of 13,793 since yesterday.

And in addition, 23,347 people received a second dose yesterday, and that brings the total number of second doses now to 2,470,181. But I would ask people to remember that those figures are likely to under-report the number of vaccinations that were reported yesterday, and we will update that as quickly as possible.

Coronavirus Scotland
Coronavirus Scotland

As is clear from the update I’ve just given on the range of statistics, cases do continue to rise. 6,651 new cases have been reported over the course of the past week – that compares to a total of 5,475 in the week before that. So cases have risen by more than one fifth in the last week, and they are now more than five times higher than the situation in early May.

That reflects the fact that the faster transmitting Delta variant is now common across Scotland, and accounts for the overwhelming majority of new cases being reported at that stage.

Now it’s important to point out, given the risk for example of long Covid, we should never be complacent about a rising curve of infections.

However, as I have indicated before, we do hope that vaccination is increasingly protecting people against serious illness. If this is indeed the case, then our experience of this virus will become different, and our ability to cope with it in a less restrictive way much greater.

That is why we continue to very closely monitor the extent to which the rise in new cases is, or is not, leading to a commensurate rise in the number of people who fall seriously ill and require hospital treatment.

Now, our early data on this point is encouraging, and I will say more about that shortly. But we still need further analysis. in particular to more fully understand the impact of the Delta variant. 

To that end, a new study published yesterday by Edinburgh University was instructive. And I’d recommend that members read that. On the one hand, it suggests that the Delta variant is associated with a higher risk of hospitalization than other variants. But on the other hand, it suggests that double dose vaccination continues to provide a high level of protection against infection with and hospitalisation from the virus.

This was underlined by another study published yesterday by Public Health England showing extremely strong protection against hospitalisation after two doses of vaccine.

So in short, all of the evidence so far suggests that while it hasn’t yet been completely broken, vaccination is weakening the link between the rise in new cases and a rise in hospitalisations and serious illness.

There is much in these studies about the impact of vaccination for us to be optimistic about.

And as I said earlier, that is reflected in our own hospital data, which of course is published on a daily basis.

The number of people being admitted to hospital with Covid has fallen from around 10% of reported positive cases at the start of the year, to around 5% now.

In addition, since around the start of May, new cases have increased at a much faster rate than hospital admissions.

We are also now seeing some evidence that the people who require hospital care are – on average – younger than during previous stages of the pandemic.

In the latest week for example the highest number of new admissions was seen amongst people in their 30s and 40s. The next highest number was of people in their 20s.  Before the vaccination programme started, people over the age of 50 usually made up the highest number of new admissions to hospital.

Now let me stress, we shouldn’t be complacent about hospitalisation for anyone, no matter what age they are.

But the fact that more of the recent hospital admissions are in younger age groups may mean that fewer of the people being admitted to hospital are becoming seriously ill or requiring intensive care. And that may also help to explain my next point.

Hospital occupancy – which is the total number of people with Covid in hospital at any given time – is not rising at the same rate as either hospital admissions or cases of Covid.

Indeed, while there been an approximate fivefold increase in cases since the start of May, hospital occupancy is around just double what it was at the start of May.

What that suggests is that people are being discharged more quickly and spending, on average, less time in hospital than patients were in earlier phases of the pandemic. And again, while that is encouraging, it’s important to stress that further analysis is needed to confirm this.

Which brings me to the judgments we require to make now and next week.

In short, we are hopeful that vaccination is changing the game in our fight against this virus, and perhaps in a very fundamental way. But the emerging evidence still does need close analysis.

And, more fundamentally – and perhaps this is the most fundamental point of all today – we do need more time to get more people vaccinated with both doses. In the race between the virus and vaccines that we’ve spoken about often, we are increasingly confident that vaccines will win that race. But we mustn’t allow the virus to get too far ahead of it.

The vaccination programme is going exceptionally well. It is being rolled out just as quickly as supplies allow. But there is still a significant proportion of the population that isn’t yet fully vaccinated with two doses.

And to be blunt, that remains our biggest vulnerability at this stage, and it is quite a significant vulnerability when cases are rising at the pace they are.

So, we need to buy ourselves sufficient time for the vaccination to get ahead and to stay ahead of the virus. And that is the reason for caution to be exercised at this juncture.

Of course these issues are also being weighed up by the UK Government, and by the other governments across the UK. And of course the UK Government just yesterday announced a four week delay to its plans for lifting Covid restrictions in England.

The Scottish Government, too, will continue to adopt a cautious approach.

I have already confirmed today that no changes will be made this week to the levels that apply in any part of the country. 

Our next full scheduled review of the protection levels will take place next week. And this will consider whether any changes are possible from 28 June onwards – the date when we had hoped we would see the whole country move down to level 0.

Now, I will confirm our decision to Parliament next week, following that review.

Coronavirus Scotland
Coronavirus Scotland

However, given the current situation – and the need to get more people fully vaccinated before we ease up further – it is reasonable I think to indicate now that it is unlikely that any part of the country will move down a level from 28 June.

Instead, it is more likely that we will opt to maintain restrictions for a further three weeks from 28 June and use that time to vaccinate – with both doses – as many more people as possible.

Doing that will give us the best chance, later in July, of getting back on track and restoring the much greater normality that we all crave.

To that end, we will also do three other things next week. And I’ll report on all of this this time next week, when I stand here to give a statement.

If our decision is to retain current levels for a further three weeks – and we have to go through the proper process to arrive at that decision – buut if that is the decision, we will consider whether any minor changes are possible.

I am aware very that as restrictions have eased, perceived anomalies have arisen. And I understand how frustrating those can be, even though there will often be a rational explanation for what might appear to be contradictory.

But I can assure members that as part of our ongoing review of the regulations and rules in place, we will consider whether any changes should or could be made to address such issues.

More fundamentally, though, we will publish two pieces of work next week to coincide with the outcome over the review, that look ahead – hopefully not too far ahead – to the restoration of a much greater degree of normality.

This work will be of interest to everyone – but it will have particular interest for the businesses and sectors – including much of our arts and culture sector for example, that still face the greatest uncertainty about what the future looks like.

So firstly, we will publish a paper setting out what we hope life will look like beyond level 0, as we get to the point where we can lift all –  or at least virtually all – of the remaining restrictions.

This is important because while we have had to pause the route-map, we do still – and I want to emphasise this point – we do still hope that vaccination will allow us over this summer to move beyond level 0, and back to a much greater degree of normality.

And secondly, related to the first, we will also publish the outcome of our review of physical distancing. Now given the uncertainties of the current situation – in particular the greater transmissibility of the delta variant – we have taken a bit longer to consider this than we had originally planned.

However, I know how important this is for many businesses, in hospitality certainly, but also for theatres and cinemas and the arts more generally, as they all consider how they can operate sustainably over the medium to long term.

So in summary: next week we will, in all probability – although this has to be confirmed after our full review – pause the further easing of restrictions while we press ahead as fast as possible with vaccination, and in particular with double doses of vaccination.

But we will also look ahead in more detail to what we still hope will be possible later in the summer.

I know the current situation is difficult and frustrating for everyone. We all want to see the back of all restrictions as soon as possible.

However, while this setback is not easy, and it’s not welcome for anyone, it is worth remembering that we are living under far fewer restrictions now than was the case just a few weeks ago.

The current situation is not what any of us want. But equally, the current situation is not lockdown as experienced at earlier stages of the pandemic.

And vaccination is – with every day that passes, quite literally – helping us change the game.

On that point, as well as doing all we can as quickly as we can to fully vaccinate the adult population, we are also making preparations for the possible vaccination of 12-17 year olds, should the advice we get from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation recommend that.

I can tell the chamber that we are also expecting advice from the JCVI in the coming weeks about whether or not booster vaccinations will be needed during this autumn. So plans are also underway to deliver these if necessary.

The Government has an obligation, one we take very seriously, to ensure that the vaccination programme is delivered as quickly and as fully as possible. And I give an assurance that we will continue to work with health boards and others to meet that obligation.

And despite the difficulties of the current situation, it is vaccination that still offers us real hope for the weeks and months ahead.

Getting people vaccinated is, first and foremost, the responsibility of government.

However, it is also one of the ways in which we can all play a part.

So I’ll end by highlighting again the three key things we all need to do to help keep us on the right track overall as we emerge from the pandemic.

The first of these is vaccination. Please make sure that you get vaccinated when you are invited to do so. And please make sure you attend for both doses. All of the evidence tells us that that is absolutely crucial.

If you need to re-arrange an appointment; or if you think you should have had an invitation by now, and you want to check up on that; you can go to the vaccinations section of the NHS Inform website.

If you had your first dose of the vaccine eight weeks or more ago, check on the website to see if you can bring your second dose appointment forward. From next week, health boards will start to routinely second doses to bring them into the eight week cycle, rather than the 12 week cycle.

Getting vaccinated is in our own best interests. It makes it less likely that we’ll become seriously ill from Covid, but it also helps us protect each other. So when it is your turn, please get the jags.

Secondly, please get tested regularly. Free lateral flow tests are available through the NHS inform website so that you can take a test twice a week. You can have them sent to you in the post, or you can collect them from local and regional test sites. And also now, lateral flow devices can be collected from community pharmacies.

So if you haven’t ordered the tests yet, I would strongly encourage you to do so.

The more of us who take tests regularly, the more cases we will find, and the more we can break chains of transmission.

And of course if you test positive, please make sure that you self-isolate, and get the result confirmed through a PCR test. That is important.

If your children are asked to self-isolate by their school, please ensure that they do that. That means staying at home, not just away from school.

I know that that it is hugely frustrating when that happens – and I want to assure parents that as part of our wider work, we are considering whether and to what extent the requirement for young people to isolate can be significantly reduced in future, particularly as we look ahead to a new school term.

But, for now, to anyone who is currently helping a child to self-isolate, thank you. I know it is frustrating and hugely disruptive.

But it also is an important way, at this stage, to help keep schools as safe as possible, and of course to keep as many of them open as we head towards the summer holidays.

And finally, I’d ask everybody to continue to stick to the rules where you live, and follow the public health advice.

This is still important. The virus is still out there, and for all the success of the vaccination programme, it is still resulting in hospitalisation for some people. And of course, Long Covid is still a risk.

So please meet outdoors as much as possible. No environment is ever entirely risk free, but meeting people outdoors we know poses much less risk than meeting indoors.

But if you are meeting people indoors, please stick to the limits and make sure the room is as well ventilated as possible. That obviously includes if you’re meeting indoors to watch the football over the next few weeks.

And please continue to follow advice on distancing, hand-washing and face coverings.

So in summary, we continue to ask everybody to get tested, to get vaccinated when you’re asked to do so, and continue to follow the public health guidance.

If we all do that – it is not easy, it is tiresome for everybody – but if we all do that we will help to get things back under control while the vaccination programme continues to do its work.

And that will help keep ourselves and each other safe. And I hope, really hope that not notwithstanding the current frustrations, it will allow us to move to much greater normality, with far fewer restrictions, as we go further into this summer. 

Boddam Castle

Boddam Castle, Aberdeenshire

The Boddam Castle lies c 3 km South of Peterhead on a level promontory between two deep vertical sided sea inlets.

A late sixteenth/early seventeenth century courtyard castle, built by the Keith family.

The Keith’s support for the Jacobite cause saw them ruined financially and the castle was allowed to fall into decay.

The remains of the 16-17th century Boddam Castle consist of the entrance archway, surmounted by a low gable, and one or two smaller arches as well as the complete foundation.

Boddam Castle
Picture by Kenny Bruce

What may have been the hinges of a drawbridge were found when a trench was cut in front of the entrance in 1868.

Boddam Castle comprises the remains of a curtain wall, c.33.0 m square, with the entrance in the West consisting of the West gable of a building with a round arched doorway and square window above.

Three gun-loops are visible. The footings of a range of buildings remain within the enclosure against the North and South walls.

Boddam Castle
The engraving was done in 1784 by an unknown artist.

Aberdeenshire and Moray

Aberdeenshire and Moray will move to level 1 on Saturday.

Aberdeenshire and Moray will move to level 1, Glasgow to move to Level 2 and Scotland remains on the right track.

The First Minister outlined the next steps to Parliament and confirmed that Glasgow will move to Level 2 from 00:01 on Saturday 5 June 2021.

The following mainland local authority areas will also remain at Level 2, while the situation with the virus is monitored closely:

  • East Dunbartonshire, East Renfrewshire and Renfrewshire
  • East Ayrshire, North Ayrshire, and South Ayrshire
  • North Lanarkshire and South Lanarkshire
  • Edinburgh and Midlothian
  • Stirling and Clackmannanshire
  • Dundee

At the same time, from 00:01 on Saturday 5 June 2021, these 15 mainland local authorities will move to Level 1:

  • Highland and Argyll & Bute
  • Aberdeen City, Aberdeenshire and Moray
  • Angus and Perth & Kinross
  • Inverclyde and West Dunbartonshire
  • Falkirk
  • Fife
  • West Lothian and East Lothian
  • The Scottish Borders
  • Dumfries & Galloway
Aberdeenshire and Moray
Aberdeenshire and Moray

All islands currently in Level 1 will move to Level 0 at the same time due to sustained low numbers of cases. Everyone is encouraged to get tested to help stop the spread of COVID-19 by finding cases that might be missed, as around 1 in 3 people with COVID-19 don’t have symptoms.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said:

“I appreciate that today’s decisions will feel like a mixed bag. That reflects the fact that we are in a transition phase. No part of the country is going backwards today. Before the vaccines, that would have been impossible on case numbers like this. But the vaccines are changing the game. And that means we can still be optimistic about our chances of much more normality over the summer and beyond.

Aberdeenshire and Moray
Aberdeenshire and Moray

“As always, all of us have a part to play in beating this virus back. So please, stick with it, and each other.

For local authority areas in Level 2, we will be providing support to soft play and other closed sectors that had expected to open, or operate in a different way from 7 June.  Full details will be provided by the Cabinet Secretary for Finance tomorrow.

Aberdeenshire and Moray on Level 1: what you can do

  • you can meet socially in groups:
    • of up to 6 people from 3 households in your home or theirs – and can stay overnight
    • of up to 8 people from 3 households in an indoor public place like a café, pub or restaurant
    • of up to 12 people from 12 households outdoors in your garden or a public place
  • under 12s do not count towards the total number of people or households meeting outside but do count towards the number of households indoors
  • you do not need to physically distance from family and friends in a private home
  • you can travel anywhere in Scotland in Levels 0, 1 or 2 but must not enter a Level 3 or 4 area unless for a permitted reason
  • you can travel anywhere in England, Wales, Northern Ireland, the Isle of Man or the Channel Islands – before you travel you must check the travel rules in those countries
  • you can provide informal childcare, for example to look after a grandchild
  • up to 100 people can attend weddings and funerals
  • tradespeople can carry out any work and repairs in your home such as painting, decorating or repairing
  • you should work from home where possible

Aberdeenshire and Moray, What can open at Level 1

Places and business that can open at Level 1 include:

  • cafés, pubs and restaurants
  • all shops and stores
  • all close contact services including hairdressers, barbers and beauty salons
  • gyms, leisure centres and swimming pools
  • tourist accommodation
  • all visitor attractions
  • all public buildings like libraries and community centres
  • all entertainment (apart from nightclubs and adult entertainment)
  • stadiums and events – with maximum numbers

Aberdeenshire and Moray, What must close at Level 1

Places and business that must close at Level 1 include:

  • nightclubs and adult entertainment

Promoting Scotland tourism

Promoting Scotland Tourism

Promoting Scotland tourism, organisations will be able to apply for funding to promote key visitor destinations.

New £3 million fund to help industry rebuild, promoting Scotland tourism.  

Tourism organisations will be able to apply for funding to promote key visitor destinations in a responsible and sustainable way, helping the sector to recover from the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Administered by VisitScotland, the £3 million Destination and Sector Marketing Fund will support eligible groups develop strong visitor marketing campaigns that position Scotland as a year-round destination to the UK and Irish markets.

The fund opens for applications on 1 June and will be split into three tiers, focusing on city, regional and national tourism groups. It is part of the £25 million investment in the tourism sector and will help deliver the post-Covid recovery programme developed by the Scottish Tourism Emergency Response Group (STERG) and the Scottish Tourism Recovery Task Force.

Promoting Scotland Tourism
Promoting Scotland Tourism

Tourism Minister Ivan McKee said, about Promoting Scotland Tourism:

“It’s been an incredibly difficult year for our tourism and hospitality sectors but, as we begin to reopen the economy and domestic travel resumes, this new fund will help to promote some of Scotland’s most scenic beauty spots to our closest markets.

“The fund stems from the work of the Promoting Scotland Tourism Recovery Taskforce and demonstrates our commitment to getting the sector firmly back on its feet again – a commitment backed by £25 million investment. Scotland is one of the world’s most iconic destinations and we must work together to deliver a sustainable recovery.”

Director of Industry & Destination Development at Visit Scotland and Chair of STERG Riddell Graham, said:

“The Destination and Sector Marketing Fund has been designed to help accelerate the recovery of Scottish tourism in the immediate to medium term by focusing on the domestic market.

“By using the latest insights, groups across Scotland will develop and promote visitor experiences both sustainably and responsibly to help stimulate demand in the domestic market all year-round.   

“VisitScotland is focused on the recovery of the industry, building a destination and visitor experience which allows tourism and events to flourish now and in the future. We’ll continue to work with, and support, businesses to ensure we rebuild this vital part of Scotland’s economy.”

Destination and Sector Marketing Fund guidance

£25 million for tourism recovery

The Fund will be split into three tiers: City Region Award Programme (with awards on offer between £50k and £100k);

Regional Destination Organisations and Pan Scotland Sector Groups (with awards between £40k and £80k); and Local

Destination Organisations, Marketing Groups and non-Pan Scotland Sector Groups (with awards between £10k and £20k).


Scottish New Cabinet

Scottish Full Ministerial team confirmed.

Nicola Sturgeon has completed appointments to her new ministerial team.

Consisting of 10 Cabinet Secretaries, including the First Minister, the Scottish Cabinet will be supported by 15 Junior Ministers. 

First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon
Minister for Drugs Policy, Angela Constance

Scottish, Pictures by Jane Barlow

Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Covid Recovery, John Swinney
Minister for Parliamentary Business, George Adam

Cabinet Secretary for Finance and the Economy, Kate Forbes
Minister for Just Transition, Employment and Fair Work (who will also work alongside the Net Zero Secretary), Richard Lochhead
Minister for Business, Trade, Tourism and Enterprise, Ivan McKee
Minister for Public Finance, Planning and Community Wealth, Tom Arthur

Cabinet Secretary for Health and Social Care, Humza Yousaf
Minister for Public Health, Women’s Health and Sport, Maree Todd
Minister for Mental Wellbeing and Social Care, Kevin Stewart

Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills, Shirley-Anne Somerville
Minister for Children and Young People, Clare Haughey
Minister for Higher Education and Further Education, Youth Employment and Training, Jamie Hepburn

Cabinet Secretary for Net Zero, Energy and Transport, Michael Matheson
Minister for Environment, Biodiversity and Land Reform (who will also work alongside the Rural Affairs Secretary), Mairi McAllan
Minister for Transport, Graeme Dey

Cabinet Secretary for Justice, Keith Brown
Minister for Community Safety, Ash Denham

Cabinet Secretary for Social Justice, Housing and Local Government, Shona Robison
Minister for Equalities and Older People, Christina McKelvie
Minister for Social Security and Local Government, Ben MacPherson

Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and Islands, Mairi Gougeon

Cabinet Secretary for the Constitution, External Affairs and Culture, Angus Robertson
Minister for Culture, Europe and International Development, Jenny Gilruth

Covid testing

COVID Testing free for everyone in Scotland

Covid testing is free lateral flow test kits will be available for anyone without symptoms.

From 26.04.2021 everyone in Scotland will be able to access rapid coronavirus COVID testing, even if they have no symptoms.

Free lateral flow home test kits will be available for pick up without an appointment from many local walk-in or drive-through test sites from 3.30pm each day, or by ordering online or by phone, for people to test themselves twice-weekly.

The expansion is aimed at finding cases that would otherwise go undetected, so anyone testing positive can self-isolate and avoid transmitting the virus to those around them.

Covid Testing

COVID testing, it means anyone without COVID-19 symptoms who does not already have access to asymptomatic testing in their workplace or community can test themselves. This includes anyone planning travel to a Scottish island so they can test themselves before their journey.

Each pack contains seven rapid lateral flow device tests that can provide results in around 30 minutes. A positive result means people should self-isolate with their household and order a PCR test to confirm the positive result.

Support for people who need to self-isolate is available, including a £500 self-isolation support grant for low income workers. People who do not have family or community support can also call the National Assistance Helpline on 0800 111 4000, or contact via textphone on 0800 111 4114.

More information on self-isolation support is available from

Anyone who receives a negative result should continue to follow the restrictions and guidance currently in place, including FACTS, as a negative result is not a guarantee that someone does not have COVID-19.

Chief Medical Officer Dr Gregor Smith said:

“This expansion builds on our existing testing strategy, and will help our efforts to ease the country out of lockdown safely. Routine testing is already available for people with no symptoms in a wide-range of settings, including schools, high-risk workplaces, and communities where COVID-19 rates remain stubbornly high.

“Rapid lateral flow testing is already helping us to find cases that might otherwise have been missed, as around 1 in 3 people with COVID-19 do not show symptoms. That’s why it’s vital people can access testing, even if they don’t feel unwell. It will help protect the people around you, and help us avoid another return to lockdown.

“It may be tempting to think as vaccinations increase and cases drop, that testing will become less important. In fact, this will only make it more important to spot and prevent new outbreaks as cases emerge. We know from our experience of last summer just how quickly one outbreak can lead to another. 

“This also applies regardless of whether you have been vaccinated or not. While the latest evidence suggests vaccines provide a high level of protection against the effects of COVID-19, they don’t yet provide a guarantee that you can’t still get the virus or pass it on to others.

“By making home tests so widely available to everyone who needs them, people have more options to get tested and our strong advice is for people to take up this offer to protect people around them, and the progress we’ve made so far.”

For more information:

Order a COVID testing kit online, go to: 

Pre-departure testing covers travel to all Scottish islands. The first test should be taken three days before travel to an island and the second on the day of departure.

People with no COVID-19 symptoms can already access Community Testing in a number of NHS Board and Local Authority areas. You can find the site closest to you at 

Anyone with COVID-19 symptoms (high temperature, new continuous cough, loss of taste or smell) should self-isolate and book a PCR test via or by calling 0800 028 2816.

People with symptoms in the NHS Highland, Orkney, Shetland, or the Western Isles board areas can book a test via their health board website. NHS Highland residents can also call 01463 706015 to book a test at their local fire station.


Scotland move to level 3

Scotland move to level 3 – significant easing of restrictions across retail, hospitality and travel.

Nicola Sturgeon has announced details of the further relaxation of restrictions across Scotland.

From Monday 26 April, hospitality venues such as cafes, pubs and restaurants can reopen, along with tourist accommodation.

Non-essential retail outlets and close contact services such as beauty salons can also reopen, in addition to indoor attractions and public buildings such as galleries, museums and libraries.

The First Minister confirmed that all parts of the country will move to Level 3 from Monday 26 April. The remaining travel restrictions within Scotland will be lifted and travel within the UK will be permitted for any purpose.

If everyone continues to follow the rules, the First Minister said it is expected that all of Scotland will move to Level 2 on Monday 17 May.

Further changes from 26 April include:

  • Adults on the shielding list can return to the workplace, if they cannot work from home, while children who have been shielding can return to school
  • Non-essential work inside people’s homes – such as painting, decorating or repairing – will be permitted, subject to mitigations
  • Non-essential informal childcare will resume
  • Driving lessons and tests can take place, while gyms and swimming pools can reopen for individual exercise
  • The attendance limit for funerals and weddings – and related events such as receptions – will increase to 50
  • Cafes, pubs and restaurants can resume full outdoor service, subject to local licensing, and serve food indoors without alcohol until 8pm
  • Takeaways to resume normal service, with physical distancing and face masks in premises
Scotland, Peterhead

The First Minister also announced that rapid coronavirus (COVID-19) tests will be made available to anyone in Scotland and to those planning travel to the islands.

From today, anyone planning travel to the islands next week can order a free home test kit online. The first test should be taken three days before travel and the second on the day of departure.

From Monday, lateral flow home test kits will be available to anyone in the wider population who does not have COVID-19 symptoms. They can be picked up from local walk/drive-through test sites for people to test themselves twice-weekly. Anyone in Scotland who develops COVID-19 symptoms should self-isolate and book a PCR test.

The expansion is aimed at finding cases that would otherwise go undetected, so those people can self-isolate and avoid transmitting the virus to those around them.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: 

“The changes that come into force next week have been hard earned by all of us. I know that many will be looking forward – quite rightly – to their first drink in a beer garden, to catching up with a friend in a café, or to going on holiday somewhere in Scotland.

“But even as we enjoy those moments, we still need to be careful. We must remember the virus is more infectious now than it was when bars and cafés were last open, so we must still stick to the rules. However, we are hopeful of seeing sustained progress in the weeks and months ahead.

“We are keeping island communities in Level 3 at the moment, so that we can allow travel between those communities and the rest of Scotland. If you are planning to travel to an island and do not have COVID-19 symptoms, we will encourage you to take two lateral flow tests for COVID-19 before you depart. This is an important way to reduce the risk of bringing COVID-19 into island communities. If you are travelling to an island next week, it is possible to get tests from today, and I would encourage you to do that.”