Nicola Sturgeon has announced new coronavirus restrictions for parts of Scotland, which will come into effect from Friday 9 October, including guidance on the use of public transport.
Under the new rules, indoor hospitality venues will be permitted to operate between the hours of 6am and 6pm daily, selling food and non-alcoholic drinks only, while outdoor bars will be allowed to serve alcohol until 10pm.
In Scotland’s five regions with the highest number of cases (which include Glasgow and Edinburgh) licensed premises will have to shut for a 16-day period. However, they are still permitted to offer takeaway services.
But what is the new guidance regarding travelling on public transport? Here’s what you need to know.
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Can I travel on public transport?
The public can still travel on public transport in Scotland and no travel restrictions have been legally put into place.
However, those living in the five health board areas of Greater Glasgow & Clyde, Lanarkshire, Ayrshire & Arran, Lothian and Forth Valley are being asked to “avoid public transport unless it is absolutely necessary”.
Essential reasons for travel include going to school or to work, if working at home is not an option.
Temporary measures are planned to last for 16 days starting for licensed premises at 6pm on Friday 9 October and at 00:01 Saturday 10 October for all other restrictions.
They will run until Sunday 25 October.
What is the current travel and safety advice for public transport?
The Transport Scotland website advises that if you have to travel, but can be flexible with your time, try to travel outside of the morning or evening peak periods.
If you are using public transport:
plan ahead,follow safety guidancetry to avoid busy times andleave plenty of time for your journey
If travelling by rail, services will have reduced capacity due to physical distancing requirements.
Consider travelling outside of peak times as these services may be quieter, but bear in mind that timetable changes may also be in place. You can check your service on the ScotRail website.
Transport Scotland says, “Travel during off peak hours if you can.
“Particularly if travelling to and from Edinburgh or Glasgow, the evening peak (around 5 pm to 6 pm) is expected to be busy.”
If travelling by bus, services will also have reduced capacity due to physical distancing requirements.
Some bus operators have introduced safety measures to the inside of buses to help maintain physical distancing requirements.
Again, consider travelling outside of peak times as these services may be quieter.
Many operators now offer mobile apps to see how busy nearby buses are, which can help you to plan ahead.
Similar to train services, timetable changes may also be in place for buses, so leave a little more time for your journey and check before you travel.
Transport Scotland explains, “If you need to travel around Glasgow by subway, services may have reduced capacity due to physical distancing requirements.”
Visit the SPT’s website for more information and to plan your journey.
Similarly, if you need to travel around Edinburgh by tram, services may have reduced capacity due to social distancing requirements, so consider travelling outside of peak times as these services may be quieter.
Visit the Edinburgh Trams website for further information and to plan your journey.Face masks must also be worn when travelling on public transport in Scotland.
Can I drive through a lockdown area?
In her speech on Wednesday, Ms Sturgeon advised people living in Greater Glasgow & Clyde, Lanarkshire, Ayrshire & Arran, Lothian and Forth Valley not to travel outside the health board area that they live in, if they do not need to.
Alongside this, Ms Sturgeon said, “likewise people in other parts of Scotland should not travel to these areas if they don’t need to.”
However, a mandatory travel ban in the country has not yet been put in place.
“We are not imposing mandatory travel restrictions at this stage, and specifically, we are not insisting that people cancel any half term breaks they have planned,” added Ms Sturgeon.
What other measures are coming into place?
As well as licensed premises being forced to close in the Central Belt, snooker and pool halls, indoor bowling alleys, bingos and casinos will close from Saturday 10 October for two weeks.
Contact sports for people aged 18 and over will be suspended for the next two weeks, with an exception for professional sports, and indoor group exercise activities will not be allowed.
However, gyms can remain open for individual exercise.
Outdoor live events will also not be permitted in these five areas for the next two weeks.
A version of this article originally appeared on our sister title, The Scotsman.