New household meeting rules take effect in Scotland

A family reunited

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People living alone can now form extended household groups

New rules on meeting members of different households in Scotland have come into effect.

The country has now moved to the second phase of its four-phase “route map” aimed at ending the lockdown while continuing to suppress the virus.

Significantly, the changes include the formation of “extended household groups”.

This enables certain people to visit another home indoors without social distancing.

What is an ‘extended household group’?

You may have heard reference to “support bubbles” in England and Northern Ireland – an idea that was first introduced in New Zealand. Scotland’s “extended household group” idea is similar.

In Scotland, people who live on their own or only with children under 18 can meet people from one other household.

This group of people can visit each other’s homes and go inside.

They will not have to stay 2m (6ft) apart and can stay overnight.

If someone in an extended group wants to meet another household outside the group, this still has to be done outdoors.

And you can only be a part of one extended household group – you can’t switch and start another with a different household.

Households with people who are shielding cannot be part of these groups.

What about meeting outside?

Unless you are shielding, you can now meet people from up to two other households outdoors, either together or separately.

It does not have to be the same households each time, but the Scottish government’s advice is that people should not meet more than two other households in one day.

Ideally you should travel no more than five miles to meet family and friends – but this is not applied as strictly here as it is to travelling for leisure.

There should be no more than eight individuals in these outdoor gatherings.

If you are meeting in someone’s garden, you can use their toilet – although you should avoid touching surfaces and clean anything that you touch.

In England in Northern Ireland only six people can meet but there is no cap on the number of households or distance you can travel.

In all countries, children are included in the headcount and social distancing guidelines – remaining 2m (6ft) apart from each other – apply.

What if you are shielding?

Now people who are shielding are able to go outdoors for exercise.

They can also meet one other household, so long as it takes place outdoors with no more than eight people.

Unlike the extended household groups, these people will have to stay 2m (6ft) apart and follow strict hygiene measures even if they live with each other.

The Scottish government has advised them to be “extremely cautious” and to stick to quiet areas.

Here is the NHS guidance on those who should be shielding in Scotland.

What else is changing?

From Monday, face coverings will be mandatory on buses, trains, trams, planes, taxis and private hire cabs, as well as enclosed areas on ferries.

Dentists will also be able to open, professional sport can resume behind closed doors and places of worship can reopen for individual prayer.

People are still being asked to work from home wherever possible, and to stay in their local area which means not travelling more than five miles for leisure and recreation.

And from 29 June, most shops and many other indoor businesses can reopen, but not shopping centres, pubs or restaurants.

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