Advice from 19 July
All areas of Scotland are now in Level 0. At Level 0, we're asking people at highest risk if they catch Covid to follow the same advice as the rest of the population. This is based on strong clinical evidence. We continue to take a cautious approach to easing restrictions.
Physical distancing indoors
We’re reducing the physical distancing requirement when you’re indoors from 2 metres to one metre. This is because our clinical advisers have reviewed the evidence in light of the numbers of people who have been vaccinated. This evidence is telling us it’s now safe to make this change.
Physical distancing outdoors
People can now meet outdoors in groups of up to 15 without physical distancing. There’s no need for distancing within the group. But one-metre distancing now applies between different social groups.
Rules about face coverings are staying in place at Level 0.
See all the Level 0 rules
See all the Level 0 rules on gov.scot. These rules apply to everyone in Scotland.
Take our survey for people at highest risk
If you would like to let us know what your thoughts and feelings are as we ease restrictions, take our short survey before 26 July. It should take around 10 minutes to complete and will help us understand the issues affecting you.
Going into work, education and childcare
At Level 0 we’re continuing to encourage everyone to work from home to reduce the general transmission of the virus. However, it’s safe for you to go into work if you cannot work from home. It’s also safe for you to use public transport. Children and young people can also go to school, university and college, and childcare. We’ll let you know if this advice changes.
Following the public health advice
We’re continuing to remind everyone in Scotland to keep following the public health advice around wearing face coverings, physical distancing, keeping hands and surfaces clean, and good ventilation. Keep windows open to let air circulate if you can. This advice applies in workplaces too.
Moving beyond the levels
As we continue to make good progress, we’ll move away from the current levels system. At the moment we expect this to be from 9 August, but that date depends on all the conditions for us to do this safely being met.
We’ll still need to manage outbreaks as and when they arise and can still go back to using the levels system to help us do that if needed.
Why we’re now saying 'highest risk' instead of 'shielding'
The highest risk group is a group of people who we might have asked to shield in the past. Most adults in Scotland will soon have had both doses of the vaccine. This means people at highest risk are now much less likely to catch Covid.
There are now other ways of reducing your risk, including vaccination, and ensuring you and everyone else in Scotland continues to follow the advice we give to protect you. We also know that shielding was very difficult at times, so we now see it as a last resort which means we're highly unlikely to ask you to shield again.
You do not have to shield now, and this is why we're now using the words ‘highest risk' instead of 'shielding' to talk about you and other people in this group.
It’s really important that as many people as possible have the vaccine, particularly if they’re at higher risk from Covid. Around 93% of people at highest risk in Scotland have already had both vaccine doses, reducing their risk of becoming severely ill from Covid.
If you have not yet done so, you and any adults (over-16s) who live with you can be vaccinated quickly and easily.
It’s important that everyone gets their second dose of the vaccine. Second doses will be given 8 weeks after the first dose.
Vaccination drop-in clinics
You and anyone over the age of 16 who lives with you can now be vaccinated at a drop-in clinic. You do not need an appointment and can go at a time that suits you.
Find your nearest drop-in clinic on the NHS inform website.
Checking and booking vaccination appointments
Anyone can check if they have an appointment scheduled for their first or second vaccine dose on the NHS Scotland website.
If you do not already have an appointment and would like to book one rather than going to a drop-in clinic, phone the Scottish Covid Vaccination Helpline on 0800 030 8013 (8am to 8pm).
If you cannot leave home or need help getting to your vaccination
Phone the Scottish Covid Vaccination Helpline on 0800 030 8013 (8am to 8pm). They can help you if you:
- cannot leave your home and need to arrange to have your vaccination at home
- need help getting to and back from your vaccination
Why vaccinations are important for adults who live with you
Vaccinating over-16s who live with you is an additional level of protection to help reduce the risk of Covid being passed to you.
If you cannot get the vaccination
Due to some health conditions, some people cannot receive the vaccination, or may not fully benefit from being vaccinated. If you’re unsure, you should speak with your clinician. Children and young people under 16 will only be vaccinated under exceptional circumstances, after an individual risk assessment with their clinicians.
If you cannot get the vaccination, over-16s who live with you can help reduce their risk of passing Covid to you by:
- getting vaccinated as soon as they can
- taking lateral flow tests twice a week to check they have not caught Covid
If you’ve already been vaccinated
We know the vaccine offers significant protection against the virus, but we do not yet have evidence of exactly how effective it is for people in the highest risk group. You must continue to be cautious to help keep yourself safe.
If someone who lives with you has already been vaccinated
People who live with you should continue to follow the public health rules and guidance, even if they've had the vaccine.
If you’re immunosuppressed
We know that many of you on the highest risk list are immunosuppressed. Evidence continues to emerge about how well the vaccine works for people in this group. While there are some encouraging signs, until we have a clearer picture we would ask that you strictly follow the advice for Level 0.
Making your workplace safe
Employers have a legal duty to make the workplace safe for all staff. It’s the employer's responsibility to regularly carry out workplace risk assessments and take steps to reduce Covid risk. Employees also have a responsibility to follow safe working practices.
Workplace risk assessment guidance for employers
Find workplace risk assessment guidance for employers at gov.scot.
Individual Covid risk assessment
We also advise you to do an individual risk assessment. You can use this to highlight your own personal risk to your employer.
Find guidance on carrying out an individual Covid risk assessment to check your own risk at work at gov.scot.
If you still feel unsafe at work
If you feel unsafe in your workplace and have already spoken to your employer, you can get more advice from:
- Occupational Health Services (if your employer offers them)
- the Health and Safety representative in your workplace
- HR (your employer's Human Resources team, if there is one)
- your trade union or professional body
- the Citizens Advice website or the free Citizens Advice Helpline on 0800 028 1456, (Monday to Friday, office hours)
- the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS)
Financial help if you cannot work
Financial help is available if you cannot work for reasons related to Covid. For example, caring responsibilities. You should also ask your employer if they can offer any other financial support not mentioned below.
Your employer may be able to furlough you through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. The scheme runs until 30 September 2021. If furloughed, you will stay off work but get up to 80% of your normal pay. Your employer will also keep paying your National Insurance and pension contributions.
Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) and benefits
Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS)
If you're self-employed and have lost income during coronavirus, you may be able to claim a grant from the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS). You will be able to claim online from late July 2021.
If you're facing a gap in your usual income, you may be able to apply for a crisis grant from the Scottish Welfare Fund.
If Test and Protect have contacted you and asked to self-isolate because of coronavirus, you may be eligible for the Self-Isolation Support Grant.
For money advice visit the Money Talk Team website or call Money Talk for free on 0800 085 7145.
Keeping up to date
Join the free Scottish Government text messaging service
We can text important updates to your mobile phone. To join, text your Community Health Index (CHI) number to 07860 064525. Your CHI number is the 10-digit number at the top of your letters from the NHS and the Chief Medical Officer. If you get a new phone number, text us your CHI number from your new phone to update your details.
We'll never ask for your personal or banking details by text. If you receive a suspicious text message, you can report it by calling Police Scotland on 101.
How to opt out of our text message service
You can stop receiving text message updates from the SMS service at any time. To do so, text STOPMESSAGE to 0786 006 4525. You will remain on the highest risk list.
If your address changes
If you change address, ask your GP practice to update the details they hold for you. They’ll pass your new details to us. If your letters still go to the wrong place, email email@example.com. Use the subject line 'Change to highest risk list details'. Include your full name, CHI number and new address.
Find out about Covid cases in your area
Public Health Scotland publishes local Covid data by neighbourhood online.
Past letters to people at highest risk
You can find past letters we sent to people at highest risk at gov.scot. You can also find other languages and formats for the letters there.
Join our research panel for people at highest risk
If you would like us to tell you about future opportunities to take part in other surveys or research about people at highest risk from Covid, you can sign up for our research panel here.
Past research about the highest risk group
Read research reports about the highest risk group on gov.scot.
Health advice and support
Support with mental health and wellbeing
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, anxious or depressed, book a GP appointment or contact:
- NHS 24 - 111 (every day: 24 hours)
- Breathing Space - 0800 83 85 87 (Monday to Thursday: 6pm - 2am; Friday to Monday: 6pm - 6am)
- Samaritans - 116 123 (every day: 24 hours)
- British Red Cross - 0808 196 3651 (every day: 10am - 6pm)
- Scottish Association for Mental Health
- Clear Your Head
Getting outside and staying active
Getting outside is good for mental and physical health. We advise getting out in the fresh air when you can.
Keep going to your medical appointments as usual. Always ask your healthcare team if you’re unsure about any health advice or treatments.
Get free lateral flow tests for Covid
Lateral flow tests are at-home Covid tests that give quick results. You do not need to go to a testing centre. These tests are only for people who do not have Covid symptoms.
You can get them by:
- ordering online at gov.scot
- phoning the National Testing Centre on 0300 303 2713
- collecting from a Covid testing centre between 3.30pm and 8pm
- collecting from some pharmacies
Lateral flow tests help to find people who do not have symptoms and would not know they have Covid. If adult members of your family or household get a positive test, they can take steps to reduce the risk of them passing Covid to you by self-isolating away from you.
Vitamin D is important for keeping your bones and muscles healthy. Sunlight is our main source of vitamin D. In Scotland, we only get enough of the right kind of sunlight for our bodies to make vitamin D between April and September. From October to March, we rely on dietary sources of vitamin D. Since vitamin D is found only in a small number of foods, it can be difficult to get enough from food alone.
We recommend that everyone should consider taking a daily supplement of vitamin D. The dose should be 10 microgram (10µg). Especially during autumn and winter when we're unable to make vitamin D from sunlight.
For most people taking a 10-microgram supplement of vitamin D daily is safe. But there are some who should seek advice first due to certain health conditions or medication. This is because taking too much vitamin D can cause calcium to build up in your body and this can weaken your bones and damage your heart and kidneys. You should seek advice from your clinician, specialist nurse, pharmacist, midwife or health visitor if you:
- have known hypercalcaemia (high levels of calcium in the blood - this can be associated with high levels of parathyroid hormone, kidney stones, certain cancers, and chronic kidney disease)
- have sarcoidosis (an inflammatory condition which can affect various parts of the body including the lungs and glands)
- take digoxin
- take calcium or other vitamin supplements already
Find out more about vitamin D supplements on gov.scot.
You can also find a leaflet about vitamin D on the Public Health Scotland website. The leaflet is available in English, Arabic, Polish, Traditional Chinese and Urdu. You can also ask for it in other formats such as large print, braille and audio versions.
Priority access to supermarket online delivery slots
If you, your child or someone you care for is on the highest risk list, you can sign up for priority access to supermarket online delivery slots.
Once you register you'll get priority access to see online delivery slots. We cannot guarantee you'll always get your preferred slot, particularly during busy periods.
Sign up for priority online delivery slots
If you have not registered for priority access to online supermarket delivery slots, you can sign up now. Supermarkets offering this service are:
If you sign up for the service, the Scottish Government will pass your details to these supermarkets on a monthly basis.
Registering for a priority online delivery slot using the Shielding text message service
If you're a parent or guardian of a child on the highest risk list you'll need to register using the child's name. If you are a carer, use the name of the person you care for.
- If you are already signed up to the Scottish Government Shielding text messaging service, sign up for priority access to online slots by texting 1SHOP to 07860 064525 from your mobile.
- If you are not signed up to our text messaging service, join by sending a text from your mobile with your Community Health Index (CHI) number to 07860 064525. Your CHI number is the 10-digit number shown at the top of this letter.
- After you have done this, text 1SHOP to 07860 064525 to sign up for priority access to online delivery slots.
Registering for an online priority slot by phone
Please call the free National Assistance Helpline number on 0800 111 4000 (Monday – Friday, business hours). A friend or carer can call for you if you cannot call yourself.
If you are already an online customer with Asda, Tesco, Morrisons, Sainsbury's, Iceland or Waitrose
Your supermarket will email you to let you know how to access the delivery service. They will send an email to the account you have registered with. If you do not receive an email, check that the email address you have registered with is still correct or check your junk mail folder.
If you are a new to online supermarket shopping
Once supermarkets have confirmed they do not have you listed as an existing customer, you will get texts from GOV.SCOT about the supermarkets that provide online deliveries in your area. The texts will explain how to sign up for these.
There's no guarantee that you will get a slot with the supermarket you want, or that you will always get your preferred slot. It may take 2-3 weeks for a supermarket to confirm you are on their system once you have registered for this service.
If you need more support with food and essentials
As before, it is important to use family, friends, and neighbours for support. But if you do need extra support getting food, medicine and other essentials, you can call the National Assistance Helpline on 0800 111 4000 (Monday-Friday, office hours).
If you're in the highest risk group and get a citation for jury duty, you can email the address on your citation to be excused. Explain that you're in the highest risk group (or on the ‘shielding list’).
Find details of the excusal process and other information for jurors on the Scottish Courts and Tribunals website.
How the NHS handles your personal health information
Find out how the NHS handles your personal health information on the NHS inform website.
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