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Covid restrictions ease for outdoors fans in Scotland

hiking in scotland is popular
Scottish walkers can now enjoy the mountains again, but they should be responsible (Image credit: Getty Images)

The Scottish Government has eased the Covid-19 travel restrictions for Scots from today. 

This means Scots can travel within their own country for outdoor socialising, recreation and exercise, such as walking, running and cycling. Groups of up to six people from six households can meet outdoors.

Under-12s do not count towards this limit, although socialising in homes is still not permitted.

Scots must continue to "Stay Local" for other purposes such as non-essential shopping. It's reported that public transport capacity will continue to be limited.  

Should data on Covid cases allow, the whole of Scotland, including all island communities, will be moved into Level 3 from Monday April 26. 

This will mean: Non-essential travel between Scotland, England and Wales will be allowed and tourist accommodation in Scotland can reopen subject to socialising rules.

Shops will be able to  reopen with precautions, including physical distancing, face masks and hand sanitiser.

Gyms and indoor sports facilities, including swimming pools, will reopen for individual exercise, with group activities permitted for under-18s, and all organised outdoor activity can resume except adult contact sport.

Limits on attendance at weddings, civil partnerships, funerals and receptions increases to 50, with alcohol permitted

Pubs, cafes and restaurants will reopen outdoors for groups of up to six people from up to six households with alcohol in line with local licensing laws, and indoors for groups of up to six people from up to two households without alcohol until 8pm.

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Walk in the mountains using good judgment (Image credit: Getty)

Advice from Scottish Mountain Rescue

While Scottish Mountain Rescue teams are keen for people to get back to the hills and mountains, they advise that people are sensible and careful.

A statement said: "Yes, we want people to be access the mountains, although preferably not on a rescue.

"A lot of work has gone in to procedures to try to make callouts as safe as possible for our team members and casualties. We also now have an adequate stock of basic PPE for rescues for each team.

"Accidents happen and we would be concerned if you didn’t call us. We are here to help, not judge.

"But any rescues are likely to be slower, with fewer people, more walking and carrying for us.

"Self-reliance is important. Plan your day carefully, refresh your skills and knowledge, stick to the type of days that you know you have done safely for several years already. Be sensitive to any local community you are visiting.

"You may well have to wait for longer than we would normally like for a rescue, so group shelter or survival bag, extra warm clothing and food are a good idea. Assume you will be out overnight if that helps to plan, although we hope it won’t be the case."

trig Point on Win Hill, Peak District, England

Outdoors fans in England are enjoying eased Covid travel restrictions (Image credit: Getty Images)

Travel and outdoors access already eased in England

In England, the relaxation of Covid-19 rules started on April 12 with people allowed to enjoy outdoor activity, travel and overnight stays away from home. 

Groups of up to 6 individuals from different households or an unlimited number of people from two households can meet outdoors, although there is to be no social mixing indoors, other than for specific listed exceptions.

Currently government advice is to "minimise the amount you travel wherever possible". However, there is no legal limit on travel distance.

Organised sport and physical activity have been exempt from legal gathering limits outdoors since March 29, providing the activity follows  Covid guidance rules. There are also no legal travel limits on organised sport and physical activity. 

Indoor climbing walls re-opened from April 12, in line with other indoor leisure facilities, such as gyms and swimming pools.

Overnight stays are also allowed in self-contained accommodation (including campsites), although only with your household or support bubble.

Self-contained holiday accommodation can reopen as long as communal facilities aren’t shared with other households.

Travel into or out of Wales from other UK countries is unrestricted, while non-essential travel between Scotland and the rest of the UK remains restricted.

Travel into Northern Ireland from other UK countries requires a 10-day isolation period.

Be responsible


While walkers, runners, cyclists and campers are now able to enjoy more relaxed rules for activities outdoors, it is important people behave responsibly and respectfully.

Wherever possible, try to avoid popular locations where increased numbers of visitors could result in parking problems and make social distancing difficult.

Always have a backup plan in mind in case your chosen destination is too busy.

Fiona Russell

Fiona Russell is a widely published adventure journalist and blogger, who is better known as Fiona Outdoors. She is based in Scotland and is an all-round outdoors enthusiast with favourite activities including trail running, mountain walking, mountain biking, road cycling, triathlon and skiing, both downhill and back country. Her target for 2021 is to finish the final nine summits in her first round of all 282 Munros, the Scottish mountains of more than 3,000ft high. Aside from being outdoors, Fiona's biggest aim is to inspire others to enjoy the great outdoors, especially through her writing. She is also rarely seen without a running skort! Find out more at Fiona Outdoors.