Skip to content

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

19 July 2021

Changes to Guidance on Physical Distancing in Level 0

Scotland has moved in to Level 0 restrictions as of 19 July. The Scottish Government have issued new guidance to Museums, Galleries and Heritage organisations operating in Scotland. The key changes to the current guidance which will have implications for museums, galleries and heritage organisations are below. 

Within Level 0, requirements on physical distancing have been relaxed to:

  • physical distancing of one metre in outdoor settings
  • physical distancing of one metre in indoor settings

Within Level 0, social mixing has been relaxed in public spaces to: 

  • A maximum of 15 people from up to 15 households may socialise outdoors in a public place. Under 12s do not count towards restricted numbers or households outdoors.
  • A maximum 10 people from up to 4 households may socialise indoors in a public place

The Scottish Government advises that organisations refresh their risk assessments after any change in level. With particular focus on demonstrating that organisations have sufficient provision of dedicated visitor facing staff to be able to control and manage visitor flow and facilitate the circulation of visitors round a permitted route.

The requirements on collecting visitor data for Test and Protect purposes remains unchanged. Museums and Galleries should continue to gather contact details for all adult visitors to your premises. One of the simplest ways to do this is to use a QR code poster compatible with the the Check In Scotland app

The wearing of face coverings is mandatory in indoor visitor attractions in every level including Level 0. Exceptions remain for those with health, disability or other reasons. Organisations should check the advice on wearing face coverings guidance regularly as this may change with each review stage.

Read the guidance on Test and Protect 

Read guidance on calculating physical distancing capacity 

Read the July update from the Scottish Government on COVID-19 guidance for museum gallery and heritage organisations


22 April 2021

Changes to Guidance on Physical Distancing and Test and Protect

The First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, announced this week that the planned relaxation of current restrictions from 26 April will go ahead and Scotland will move to Level 3 on Monday.

We have been alerted by the Scottish Government of the following key changes to the current guidance which will have implications for museums and galleries. These changes are expected to come into effect on 17th May.

  • It is strongly recommended for organisations to take contact details for all visitors but it is not currently mandatory.
  • It will be mandatory, however, to collect details from anyone using the café or restaurant.
  • Museums and galleries will need to calculate and highlight their physical distancing capacity on the front of their venues.

It is understood that museums and galleries might need to approach the guidance in a pragmatic way. The Scottish Government is aware of, and grateful for, the high degree of compliance that has been shown by the sector and the efforts that have been required to ensure that museums are able to re-open.

The Scottish Government is asking organisations to update their booking systems, if possible, so that these can collect details of all visitors. It is fully understood, however, that it is unlikely that any changes will be able to be put in place ahead of re-opening. 

Where tickets have been sold already, and only the details of a lead contact member have been collected, we have been advised that there is no requirement to contact this group retrospectively for the details of all visitors. The guidance currently does not differentiate between adults and children, it only states all visitors.

To support venues to meet their responsibilities with the new Test and Protect guidance the Scottish Government is encouraging venues to use the Check In Scotland App to collect visitor information

Read the full updated guidance on Test and Protect 

Read guidance on calculating physical distancing capacity 

Read the April update from the Scottish Government on COVID-19 guidance for museum gallery and heritage organisations

We understand that undertaking these changes may be problematic for some venues. Please get in touch with us with any concerns by emailing

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 0-3 

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