The First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, has imposed Level Three restrictions on The City of Edinburgh Council area in an address to Holyrood just before First Minister’s Questions.

These will come into effect on Monday 2 November 2020 at 6am.

What does this mean for people who live here?

In the first place, no-one should travel to and from the Edinburgh area except for essential reasons. These include work, education, local outdoor exercise or essential shopping. The First Minister recognised that this depends on people doing the right thing and that it is not always possible for every journey taken to be checked.

These are the Scottish Government Level 3 restrictions as set out in the Strategic Framework:

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Lothian MSP Miles Briggs, has questioned the designation claiming that there has been a worrying lack of scrutiny being allowed by MSPs at Holyrood, who he says are being bypassed in announcements of what measures are being introduced to tackle Covid-19.

He explained that restaurants and bars, since they were allowed to open after lockdown, have done an incredible job and spent significant amounts of money making their premises as Covid-19 safe as possible. Pubs and restaurants have been clearly signposted, had hand sanitiser available, staff have worn face coverings and followed guidelines to the letter.

But he claims that as they need to stay closed after the initial two week restrictions, at very short notice, it is a hard blow for those businesses that have gone above and beyond to protect their customers and staff. 

Mr Briggs, said: “Working to safeguard the public health is everyone number one priority but we need act to help safeguard jobs.    

“Residents and businesses across Edinburgh have a growing number of questions why the Capital has been placed in Tier 3 when the science would point towards being placed in Tier 2. 

“The lack of scrutiny being allowed on decision being made by SNP Ministers is extremely worrying and has led to previous poor decisions and confusion by SNP Ministers.

“Businesses and peoples jobs are being put at severe risk due to decisions which are being made without decisions being fully debated at Holyrood.

“I have today written to Nicola Sturgeon to ask the Scottish Government to meet with Edinburgh and Lothian MSPs from all parties to discuss the scientific evidence behind her decision and the route out of level 3 down to level 2 for Edinburgh.

“From the outset of the pandemic Scottish Conservatives have worked constructively with SNP Ministers, what we now need to see if a clear path for Edinburgh to move to Tier 2 as soon as it is safe to do so.”

Cllr Iain Whyte, Conservative Group Leader on Edinburgh Council said: “All the information available on rates of infection per 100k people suggest that Edinburgh should be in Tier 2 and is very close to the threshold to reach Tier 1.  If The Scottish Government are to have a system for assessing local authority areas they should stick to it – not impose arbitrary additional restrictions which will be hugely damaging to local businesses. This is particularly the case for our hard hit hospitality sector which is such an important part of the Edinburgh economy.

“The lack of consultation and justification given to Edinburgh councillors is also shocking.  Maybe the SNP council leader knows more than the rest of us do about The Scottish Government’s thinking but that’s hardly open and transparent.  And unlike local Conservatives in England who are happy to argue the case for their area it seems here that an SNP led Council just goes along with whatever the SNP Government wants.  Regardless of any economic impact.”

One of our local councillors lamented the issue of communication earlier on Twitter:

Socialising (different rules apply for children, further guidance will be issued)

  • no in-home socialising
  • 6/2 outdoors and in public places, e.g. hospitality settings i.e. max 6 people from 2 households

Hospitality (food and drink)

Hospitality (alcohol on sale outdoors)

  • not permitted

Hospitality (alcohol on sale indoors)

  • not permitted

Hospitality (food for consumption on premises)

  • permitted – time restrictions may apply


  • takeaways permitted for alcohol and food as per existing arrangements

Accommodation (hotels, B&Bs, self-catering, caravan and camp sites)

  • open – socialising and hospitality rules apply
  • guidance encourages non-essential (leisure/tourism) use only by locals
  • essential, eg work-related, use can continue


  • no non-essential travel into or out of the level 3 area
  • exemptions for essential travel for work, education, shopping health etc; outdoor exercise; weddings and funerals; and transit through restricted areas
  • international quarantine regulations apply


  • active travel (walk, run, cycle, wheel) where possible
  • avoid car sharing with people outside extended household wherever possible
  • avoid non-essential use of public transport.
  • face coverings compulsory


  • open

Close contact services (e.g. hairdressers, barbers, tailors and beauticians)

  • open, but may be subject to additional protective measures
  • mobile close contact services not permitted

Public buildings – e.g. libraries

  • open (with protective measures)

Stadia and events

  • not permitted / closed to spectators


  • open – restricted numbers (50)

Life events (weddings, and civil partnerships, funerals) ceremonies and receptions/wakes

  • weddings/civil partnerships – 20 person limit
  • funerals – 20 person limit
  • wakes and receptions permitted, subject to 20 person limit

Early learning and childcare (ELC)(formal childcare)

  • open – with enhanced protective measures in place

Informal childcare

  • permitted in line with household/numbers restrictions, children only may enter other households


  • open – with enhanced protective measures in place


  • restricted blended


  • restricted blended

Driving lessons

  • permitted

Sports and exercise

  • indoor: individual exercise only (exemption for under 18s)
  • outdoor – all except adult (18+) contact sports (professional permitted)

Leisure and entertainment

  • closed

Visitor attractions

  • all open or outdoor only open, depending on circumstances

Public services (health following NHS remobilisation plan)

  • essential face-to-face services only (online where possible)

Unregulated children’s activities (incl. youth clubs, children’s groups)

  • differentiated restrictions apply

Support services (mental health, counselling, day services, respite care)

  • permitted/online where possible.

Offices and call centres

  • essential only/working from home 

Other workplaces

  • open – working from home default where possible


This is advice, consider which level of protection is right for you.

All levels: We will not ask you to distance from people within your own homes or to stop taking outdoor exercise.

Level 3 shielding

  • Contact with others: limit meeting people outside your own household, avoid indoor public spaces.
  • Shopping: strictly follow the guidelines when shopping and limiting the number of times you go to a shop. Shop at quieter times.
  • If you cannot work from home: speak to your employer to ensure all appropriate protections are in place. If they are not, discuss getting a fit note with your GP or clinician.
  • School/ formal childcare: parents or guardians should discuss with their GP or clinician whether children should still attend.
Calton Hill. Photo: Martin P. McAdam