The First Minister has warned people in Scotland not to book an Easter trip abroad or at home
In the announcement, Nicola Sturgeon could give key dates for when people living in Scotland will be able to travel outside their local authority and take ‘staycations’.
After over nine weeks of remaining in the area in which we live and only being allowed to travel for essential purposes, the announcement will be welcomed across the country.
So, when can we travel in Scotland again and what rules will remain in place? This is what we know so far.
When can I travel around Scotland?
There has been no specific date outlined yet as to when people in Scotland will be allowed to travel into other areas for reasons other than essential care duties and work, which cannot be completed at home.
The Scottish Government makes an exception for allowing local travel within Orkney, Shetland and many of the Western Isles. But apart from that, the only flexibility is that “exercise can start and finish” up to five miles from the boundary of your local authority area.
However, Ms Sturgeon has already stated that people should not book trips abroad or in Scotland for the Easter holidays, so we can rule out staycations happening before the second week in April.
On 17 February, she told the Scottish Parliament: “We are likely to advise against booking Easter holidays, either overseas or within Scotland, as it is highly unlikely that we will have been able to fully open hotels or self catering accommodation by then.
“However, for the summer, while it is still highly unlikely that overseas holidays will be possible or advisable, staycations might be – but this will depend on the data nearer the time.”
Ms Sturgeon has also suggested Scotland’s route map out of lockdown will have a similar timeline to the one announced for England by Boris Johnson on 22 February.
The First Minister said Scotland’s route map would be “broadly similar,” but not identical.
What are the rules for travelling in England?
Johnson announced self-contained accommodation such as caravans, campsites and holiday lets, where indoor facilities are not shared with other households, will be able to reopen for overnight stays by households only, from 12 April.
Hotels and B&Bs could open on 17 May at the earliest, which is also the date that international travel might be unlocked for people in England.
People will be able to stay away from home with other members of their household or bubble, but guests will have to obey the stage three social mixing rules, which are that a maximum of six people or two households can stay together indoors. These restrictions will be reviewed before further easing of Covid rules on 21 June.
Therefore, staycations in Scotland could be allowed from mid-April but this has yet to be confirmed by Sturgeon.
When can I travel to other parts of the UK?
Travel around the rest of the UK will be a matter for the Scottish Government to decide, in conjunction with the leaders in England, Northern Ireland and Wales.
While the Scottish Government could allow people to travel into other parts of the UK at the same time as staycations in Scotland are permitted, the ability to travel into other areas will also be down to the approach taken by other nations.
People from England, Wales and Northern Ireland will not be allowed to travel into Scotland until their devolved governments permit travel and the Scottish Government welcomes travel into Scotland from elsewhere in the UK.
What are the rules likely to be on travelling in Scotland?
Nicola Sturgeon has disclosed that there will be a levelled approach to easing restrictions, which means rules could still be in place when businesses reopen and travel resumes.
Previously when the national lockdown was eased in 2020, people in Scotland had to wear face coverings in indoor facilities and on public transport.
There were also social distancing rules in parks and public spaces as well as reduced transport and localised restrictions which meant you couldn’t travel into some areas if infection rates were high.
It is not known whether these regulations could be reintroduced.
In England there will still be some social distancing requirements until 21 June so it is a possibility that Scotland could also follow suit.
UK Ministers will review restrictions on social distancing and other “long-term measures” designed to reduce transmission, including the “one metre plus” rule and the wearing of face coverings in England, before the fourth step (expected on 21 June)
It is likely that this approach will also be taken in Scotland, with some restrictions remaining in place until early summer.
Will I need a vaccine passport?
A coronavirus vaccine passport system could be introduced in Scotland in the future, Scotland’s national clinical director Prof Jason Leitch said on 28 January.
Mr Johnson stated on 22 February that the UK Government would also “consider the potential role of Covid status certification” prior to step three of England’s route map, in helping indoor venues to reopen safely.
However, Professor Melinda Mills, director of the Leverhulme Centre for Demographic Science at the University of Oxford, said: “The intended use will have significant implications across a wide range of legal and ethical issues that need to be fully explored and could inadvertently discriminate or exacerbate existing inequalities.
“There is a risk that they could unjustly discriminate in hiring, attending events, insurance companies housing applications – you can think of many examples.
She added: “There are also additional concerns about whether the vaccine data – the vaccination data – could be linked for unintended reasons, such as immigration authorities.”
This article will be updated following the First Minister latest Covid restrictions announcement, on 23 February at 2.15pm.