Change to the COVID-19 readiness level in Scotland

We have monitored today’s announcement from the Scottish Government that reflects changes to social gatherings and not educational settings (which includes youth work), and we can now confirm some changes to what Scouts can do face-to-face in Scotland as we are now able to move to Yellow readiness level from today, Thursday 10 September 2020.

There is a lot of information below so please make sure you read it carefully.

Overall readiness levels in Scotland are set by the Scottish Government. This is part of the Scottish Route Plan and informed by Government guidance provided through YouthLink Scotland and Public Health Scotland. Scouts do not control this. However, we’ve been in constant dialogue with colleagues at YouthLink over the summer and have been feeding back your experiences of making this work locally.

We can confirm the following changes to the rules for Yellow readiness in Scotland:

Indoor activities are now allowed, but outdoor activities are still preferred and should be encouraged.

Numbers change to a total party size of 30 and this includes young people and adults – this applies both indoors and outdoors. Any Young Leaders are also included in this total, but please remember that Young Leaders do not count towards ratios. (The increase to 30 outdoors is also permitted in Amber)

Indoor activities will carry more potential risk so numbers must be adjusted accordingly to allow social distancing to be maintained, among those aged 12+.

Young people under 12 (Beavers, Cubs and younger Scouts) do not need to socially distance but older Scouts, Explorers and Adults should maintain social distancing currently at 2m.

Scout Networks can meet in groups up to 15 and be supported by up to 5 leaders but all must socially distance.

All adults must socially distance from all young people (even those under 12), where it is not possible for a short period then a face covering must be worn.

No gatherings of more that 30 are permitted for any reason and multiple groups must continue to be at least 25m away from each other.

Adults don’t need to wear a face covering when delivering activities – unless social distancing can’t be maintained.

Young People over 12 need only wear a face covering if social distancing can’t be maintained e.g. when moving from one activity to another. Social distancing should still be the norm.

Consideration should be given to age group bubbles to reduce group sizes, for example the Scout Section might choose to meet with 10- and 11-year olds as one bubble and 12-14-year olds for another but that will depend on factors such as Troop size, hall size etc.

Whilst it is now possible for leaders to move between Sections on the same day, this should be limited to avoid contact with too many households and increase the risk.

Groups will need to get consent from parents and carers before young people move to indoor activities.

Adult Leader training and other adult gatherings that are not direct youth work (working with Sections) should not involve groups of more than 6 people indoors or outdoors and household restrictions do apply.

Update on residential experiences and International travel

We said we’d review our position on residential experiences (both in the UK and Internationally) in September. These won’t be permitted before 1 January 2021 at the earliest, but we’ll review this position again in December and in line with the Scottish Route Map. This covers all overnight stays including camping.

Why change now?

This week, Youthlink Scotland has published the second version of its guidance covering all youth sector activities in Scotland. Our team of volunteers and staff have been working on how to best make these changes work in Scouts. At all times over the summer, we’ve tried to make as many activities possible as we can within the restrictions, which is why we were one of the first youth organisations to restart face-to-face activities again from August.

What happens next?

Please be reassured that not all ‘Amber’ risk assessments will need to be re-submitted because of these changes.

Groups and Sections that have already had their risk assessments approved may wish to amend their current risk assessments to allow for the changes as follows:

A Group/Section who’ve already had an ‘Amber’ approved risk assessment for meeting outdoors, but want to increase their numbers outdoors, should simply note this as a change on their local copy. This doesn’t need to be re-approved as there are no new COVID-19 risks identified.

A Group/Section who’ve already had an ‘Amber’ approved risk assessment for meeting outdoors, and who want to move to ‘Yellow’ and meet indoors, would need to consider what new COVID-19 risks exist and submit the amended risk assessment for re-approval ensuring that it clearly states that this is ‘Amber to Yellow’. Until that’s approved, they may continue to meet outdoors under their previously approved risk assessment but now with group sizes up to 30.

A Group/Section who haven’t submitted a risk assessment before now have the opportunity to include outdoor and indoor options on a single risk assessment in ‘Yellow’. They should not be asked to complete Amber and Yellow risk assessments but make it clear that it is a ‘Yellow Risk Assessment’


Readiness levels may change as local restrictions occur. You can find the readiness level in your area here.

Sharing this information

The Bringing People Back Together Safely webpages will be updated to reflect these changes in Scotland and there will be a number of improvements to the website and the guidance documents over the coming weeks to make the information easier to use, reflecting feedback from leaders and approvers.

As always, there’s no rush for anyone to immediately adapt plans to the changes. We’re just providing a broader framework to give more options for making face-to-face activities work easily and practically. However, we do hope it’ll give more leaders the confidence to get their young people back together.

There will be Leaders who don’t feel comfortable to return, or whose work or health means they can’t just now. We hope Districts can support the Groups who need help to get started and will make sure no additional local barriers or additional processes are put in place.

The situation is constantly changing and we do need to remind you that we may have to apply further restrictions if directed by the Scottish Government.

Thank you for the enormous amount of effort you’re putting into getting our young people back face-to-face. We know it’s making the world of difference to those young people who have managed to start their meetings again and reconnect with one another.


Andrew Sharkey
Chief Commissioner of Scotland


Graeme Luke
Head of Scouting Operations
Deputy Chief Executive