Advice on how to travel safely

Scotland moved beyond Level 0 on 9 August. Find out what a move beyond Level 0 means.

Information on travel within Scotland, to the rest of the UK and around the world can be found in the Scottish Government's travel guidance.

Know before you go - always plan ahead and avoid busy routes and places. Check live travel information -  use Traffic Scotland for roads, ScotRail for rail and Traveline Scotland for bus travel.

As restrictions are eased, the emphasis will continue to be on personal responsibility, good practice and informed judgement.

Access the latest information on Coronavirus in Scotland (www.gov.scot)

Please follow these steps for your own safety and the safety of others

  • Stay at home if you or anyone in your household is experiencing coronavirus symptoms (new continuous dry cough, fever or the loss of or a change in your sense of smell or taste) or if you are self-isolating.
  • Familiarise yourself with the Scottish Government's updated Strategic Framework guidance, published 22 June 2021.
  • Familiarise yourself with Scottish Government test and protect guidance and consider downloading the free contact tracing app.
  • Consider walking, wheeling or cycling if you can.
  • Plan your journey and when possible avoid busier services or places.
  • Pay for your journey online, use smart ticketing, the operator’s mobile app, or contactless payment, if you can, to reduce cash handling.
  • Comply with any signage or instructions on public transport or from transport staff as the precautionary measures in place are for everyone’s benefit.
  • When travelling on public transport or in a taxi or private hire vehicle or when you are in a bus or railway station, enclosed ferry terminal or airport you must continue to wear a face covering unless an exemption applies.
  • If you are sharing a private vehicle with anyone from another household, you should continue to follow the precautionary measures set out in the car sharing section of this guidance.
  • Be considerate of the need for precautionary measures and the needs of fellow passengers who may have impairments, disabilities or mobility issues.
  • Hand hygiene should continue to be maintained to a high standard and hand sanitiser should continue to be used if possible. This will help reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19, as well as other illnesses or infectious diseases.

International Travel

We have retained some border controls to help protect against the risk of importing new strains of the virus from abroad. Please check travel advice before travelling for up-to-date information, please see further advice and guidance on international travel and managed isolation.

Keep yourself and others safe by following this advice

You should stay at home if you:

  • are experiencing any coronavirus symptoms or
  • are self-isolating as a result of coronavirus symptoms or sharing a household with somebody with symptoms

Read more information and guidance from Health Protection Scotland.

In order to reduce pressure on the road network and the public transport system we would like you to consider walking, wheeling or cycling for all or part of your journey, if you can. We encourage these forms of active travel as a first choice, as they are good for health, the environment and to relieve pressure on the transport network.


Walking, wheeling and cycling

If you decide to walk or cycle, information from your local authority or Sustrans (the national charity for walking and cycling) can help you plan your journey, including maps showing dedicated paths and routes. If cycling, you should check any changes to routes in case of any temporary traffic or road restrictions.

Active travel and accessibility organisations have come together to provide information and best practice on walking and cycling during COVID-19. This information has also been approved by Public Health Scotland and Transport Scotland and is available on the Sustrans Scotland webpage.

When walking, wheeling or cycling you should follow the Highway Code to keep everyone safe.  In particular:

  • only pedestrians - including people using wheelchairs and mobility scooters - should use the pavement.
  • cyclists should only cycle on designated cycle lanes,  shared paths and roads.
  • on shared, non-segregated paths, all users should be considerate of each other. Cyclists should use a bell to warn of their presence but be mindful that a bell may not be sufficient warning to pedestrians with hearing, visual or mobility impairments.

You should wash or sanitise your hands before and after walking or wheeling in case you inadvertently touch any hard surfaces or other pedestrians or persons wheeling. We also recommend that you clean your wheelchair in case it is touched by another person when wheeling.

When cycling you should wash or sanitise your hands before and after your journey. We also recommend that you wash your cycle in case it is touched by another person whilst either cycling or at your destination.

If you are unable to walk or cycle on your journey, the following sections provide advice on the use of private and public transport.


On your journey - staying safe

Face coverings

Although vaccination is our best protection against COVID-19, no vaccine is 100 percent effective and we know that even those vaccinated can get the virus. Clinical and public health advice is clear that face coverings continue to be an effective way of stopping transmission.

Unless exempt for specific circumstances, the law says you must wear a face covering in most indoor public places including public transport.

You must wear your face covering before boarding a bus, train, ferry or other public transport vehicle or vessel and you should not remove your face covering before alighting. You must also wear your face covering when you are within public transport premises including all bus, rail and subway stations, interchange hubs, ferry terminals and airports.

As well as the legal requirement that face coverings must be worn on public transport and in indoor public places, the Scottish Government also recommends that face coverings should be worn when moving around in other settings when it is crowded. This is encouraged for busy outdoor events.

Children under 12 are exempt from any requirement to wear face coverings, but can, of course continue to choose to do so. It is recommended that, in the case of the small number of children already attending secondary school before their 12th birthday, they are encouraged to follow the same rules that apply to those aged 12 and over to align with their peer group.


Taxis and Private Hire vehicles

On your journey

You must wear a face covering when using a taxi or private hire vehicle to prevent the transmission of the virus. For children under 12 years of age or those with particular health conditions who cannot wear a face covering safely, an exemption applies.

You should also be aware of the surfaces, like door handles, you or others touch. Ensure you wash or sanitise your hands before, during and after you journey. Also remember to cover your mouth with a tissue or elbow when coughing or sneezing.

Be considerate to your driver by taking all your belongings and rubbish when leaving the vehicle.


Private vehicles and cars

Travelling in a vehicle with others

If you need to share a private vehicle or car with anyone from another household you should take the following precautionary measures:

  • Limit the number of people in the vehicle to as few as possible, ideally no more than 2 (applies to adults and children aged 12 and over)
  • Use the biggest vehicle available for car sharing purposes
  • Windows in the car should be opened as far as possible taking account of weather conditions to improve ventilation in the space
  • Occupants in the car, including the driver, should wear a face covering provided it does not compromise driver safety in any way
  • Occupants should perform hand hygiene before entering the vehicle and again on leaving the vehicle
  • Occupants should avoid eating in the vehicle
  • Passengers in the vehicle should minimise any surfaces touched
  • Keep the volume of any music/radio to a minimum to prevent the need to raise voices in the car
  • The longer the journey, the higher the risk; keep journey times to the minimum feasible and do not linger in the vehicle before or after the journey itself
  • Where non-household members are car-sharing, the car must be cleaned regularly (at least daily) and particular attention should be paid to high risk touch points such as door handles, electronic buttons and seat belts. General purpose detergent is sufficient unless a symptomatic or confirmed case of COVID-19 has been in the vehicle in which case a disinfectant (e.g. chlorine-based product) should be used

You should not travel to work/car share if you have any symptoms of coronavirus, as outlined on the NHS Inform website. 

Note this is relation to private vehicles, for taxis and private hire vehicles please refer to guidance on taxis and private hire vehicles.

If you are travelling in a vehicle as part of your job or business, safe operation of workplaces applies, therefore please refer to your employer. For employers, you may wish to refer to guidance for safer workplaces.

If someone tests positive for COVID-19, all passengers will be assessed for close contact and are likely to be advised to self-isolate pending the outcome of a PCR test.

Plan your journey

If you are using a private vehicle (e.g. car, minibus) make sure that you plan ahead and check the latest travel advice on your route via Traffic Scotland, if you can, as well as making sure that your intended  car park is open. Otherwise, if parking on-street please be considerate of the local area and residents.

Routes may be different as local authorities make changes to enable physical distancing on pavements and cycle routes.

On your journey

When driving, you should anticipate more pedestrians and cyclists than usual, especially at peak times of day.

You should wash or sanitise your hands before, during and after your journey and if you are the driver you should encourage passengers to do likewise. You should also be aware of the surfaces you touch, be careful not to touch your face, and remember to cover your mouth with a tissue or elbow when coughing or sneezing.

Completing your journey

When finishing your journey, we recommend you wash or sanitise your hands as soon as possible and ensure regular cleaning of keys or fobs, door handles and steering wheel.


Air travel

Separate guidance relating to airports and aviation is available from the airline you are travelling with or your travel agent. Please also check the websites of the airport you will be departing from, and the airport you will be arriving at.

In Scotland you must wear a face covering when in an airport or on an airplane departing from or landing in Scotland. For children under 12 years of age or those with particular health conditions who cannot wear a face covering safely, an exemption applies. You do not have to prove that you are exempt to access places or services, you should not be made to wear a face covering or denied access to places where face coverings are required.

You may remove your face covering if you need to take medication or to eat or drink where reasonably necessary. You should remove your face covering temporarily to comply with a request by a relevant person who needs to check your identity.

When travelling, be aware of the surfaces you touch. Be careful not to touch your face, and remember to cover your mouth with a tissue or elbow when coughing or sneezing. If you have your hand sanitiser, it is recommended you use it before, throughout and after your journey, particularly where you are likely to touch surfaces.


International travel

If travelling abroad is essential, make sure you check the latest Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advice before travelling. Check with your travel agent or your airline, ferry or train operator on specific rules for each route and destination.

Bear in mind that quarantine rules may apply in the country you are visiting and when you return to the UK.

Find further advice on the UK Government website.

We have retained some border controls to help protect against the risk of importing new strains of the virus from abroad. Please check travel advice before travelling for up-to-date information, please see further advice and guidance on international travel and managed isolation.

Further information on travelling during the pandemic


Summary of latest changes

Summary of latest changes

9 August 2021

  • Updated to reflect move beyond Level 0 from 9 August 2021

15 July 2021

  • Updated to reflect Protection Levels applicable from 19 July 2021

5 June 2021

  • Updated to reflect Protection Levels applicable from 5 June 2021

17 May 2021

  • Updated to reflect Protection Levels applicable from 17 May 2021

26 April 2021

  • Updated text on new travel rules and further detail added to car sharing guidance for those with additional support needs

16 April 2021

  • Updated text around new travel rules, Scottish Government calendar for easing restrictions and FACTS guidance

8 January 2021

  • Updated text to reflect new lockdown restrictions

2 November 2020

  • Updated text around UK travel

30 October 2020

  • Strategic Framework Guidance
  • Face Covering Exemption Cards

23 September 2020

  • Contact tracing app

22 September 2020

  • Further update to car/vehicle sharing

8 September 2020

  • Update to car/vehicle sharing

26 August 2020

  • Guidance on preparing for the start of the new school term - link updated

3 August 2020

  • School guidance added

10 July 2020

 

  • Guidance on car sharing added

6 July 2020

  • Updates on 5 mile guidance and ferry travel

22 June 2020

  • Face coverings – clarification on exemption evidence and addition of a link to exemption legislation

19 June 2020

  • Face coverings – Following the First Minister's announcement that face coverings will be mandatory on public transport from 22 June 2020,  the guidance has been updated in the “steps to follow” and in the relevant sections for each transport mode.
  • How to make a face covering - link provided
  • Aviation guidance – The UK Government published its guidance on 11 June 2020, a link has been provided to the passenger guidance.
  • Contact details – An e-mail address has been provided for the submission of comments on this guidance.