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Operating within Coronavirus (COVID-19): Scotland's Strategic Framework


This page contains updates on the latest restrictions from the Scottish Government that apply to museums and galleries.  

Please continue to refer to our other Coronavirus guidance pages for operational advice including financial support, business continuity and caring for collections, at this time.  

Latest updates

16 March 2021

The Scottish Government has announced it's timetable for easing the current Coronavirus restrictions. The timetable can be read in full on the Scottish Government website

Important information for Museums and Galleries

From 26th April:

Indoor attractions and public buildings such as galleries, museums and libraries can re-open.

Travel within all of mainland Scotland will be permitted (subject to other restrictions that remain in place)

23 February 2021 

From Tuesday 5 January, mainland Scotland moved from Level 4 to a temporary Lockdown, with new guidance to stay at home except for essential purposes. On Tuesday 23 February Scotland's Strategic Framework Update was released. It can be read here. It is expected that current restrictions will be relaxed from the end of April and all of Scotland will move to Level 3.

The following areas will remain in level 3: 

  • Orkney
  • Shetland
  • The following islands within Argyll and Bute: Coll, Colonsay, Erraid, Gometra, Iona, Islay, Jura, Mull, Oronsay, Tiree, and Ulva
  • All islands in Highland, with the exception of Skye, which comes within the national restrictions.

Museums and galleries can open and operate, with social distancing and additional hygiene measures in place, in local authority areas at tiers 0 to 3. Museums and galleries in local authority areas in tier 4 and temporary lockdown are required to close.  Museums forced to close or modify their operations due to the tier restrictions can apply for financial support from the Strategic Framework Business Fund. The Job Retention Scheme has been extended to Sept 2021 which helps covers employer National Insurance and pension contributions of furloughed workers – on top of 80% of salary. 

Read our guidance on caring for your collections in lockdown



COVID Protection levels (tiers) for Visitor Attractions including museums and galleries

COVID Protection levels (tiers) for Visitor Attractions including museums and galleries

Levels 1-3 

All indoor and outdoor visitor attractions such as museums, galleries, educational and heritage attractions, zoos and aquariums can open providing there are physical distancing and hygiene measures in place.  

Visitors must comply with the physical distancing and hygiene measures in place and check in advance for visiting arrangements such as pre-bookable time slots. Face coverings indoors are compulsory for all visitors and staff. 

Visitor attractions with shops and hospitality facilities can open. 

Public and customer toilets can be opened as long as it is safe to do so. Where toilets are part of a larger premises e.g. a shop, face coverings must be worn. 

Members of the public must not meet socially at a visitor attraction in a group of more than 6 people from 2 separate households outdoors or indoors. 

Level 4 

All indoor visitor attractions such as museums, galleries, heritage attractions, indoor areas of zoos and aquariums are closed.  

Outdoor visitor attractions, such as parks, gardens and the outdoor areas of zoos may remain open, to enable exercise and recreation to be undertaken with appropriate physical distancing in place but should only be visited in line with travel restrictions (see notes below).  

Visitor attraction’s retail and hospitality facilities will be closed. 

Travel guidance  

Travel restrictions will be put into law on 20 November to further enforce the current guidance that restricts people who live in a Level 3 or Level 4 local authority area from travelling outside their local authority except for an essential purpose - such as work or caring responsibilities. 

The regulations also prevent non-essential travel into a Level 3 or 4 local authority area, except for the same reasons.  

Further information

You can find out the different restrictions in place for each local area, including what you can and cannot do at each level, on the Scottish Government website.

More guidance for the tourism and hospitality sector is also available