The Scottish Government has prepared this FAQ on 5 January 2021 to support Local Authority staff in Level 4 and Level 3 areas answer questions resulting from new lockdown restrictions and letters sent to people on the Shielding list of 5 January 2020. 

Frequently asked questions - Level 4 specific guidance

What measures are included in level four lockdown?

From midnight on Tuesday 5 January, lockdown measures come into place across mainland Scotland. This is to help suppress the spread of the new variant of coronavirus. This new variant is much more quickly and easily spread.

To minimise the risk of spreading the virus, you must stay at home as much as possible. By law, in a level 4 area, you can only leave your home (or garden) for an essential purpose.

A list of essential purposes can be found at

Does that mean I can’t leave my house at all?

No. We're not advising you to stop going outside, which we know is good for mental and physical health. You should stay at home as much as possible but you can still go out for exercise and essential shopping or medicines.

Am I being asked to go back into shielding?

No. We are not advising people to start shielding again. It is important to strictly follow the protection level guidance for your area and maintain regular hand washing, physical distancing and face coverings.

If you are in the highest protection level 4 and during this lockdown, we are advising you to take some extra precautions to ensure your safety.  This includes:

  • Minimise contact with people outside your own household
  • You should not take public transport, including taxis
  • Strictly follow the guidelines when shopping and limiting the number of times you go to a shop

·Shop at quieter times

  • Children on the shielding list should not attend school or college in person

How long will we be in lockdown for?

These measures are currently in place until the end of January, but this will be reviewed in two weeks.

Can I work if I am on the shielding list and live in a Level 4 area?

You should follow the updated advice and only work from home. Employers should make sure their staff can work from home if possible. If you cannot work from home, you should not go into your work place.

What to do if you can’t work from home

Receiving the letter from the Chief Medical Officer of 5 January 2021 does not automatically mean you need to stay off work. This can only be used if you cannot work from home.

All you need to do is show them this letter, which serves as a fit note, and is called your Shielding Notification. You do not need a separate fit note from your GP.

How do I receive a fit note if I am 16 or 17 and in work?

If you are a young person between the ages of 16 and 17 and working, and you cannot work at home, we will arrange for a letter to be sent to you. This letter will act as a fit note which you should show to your employer.

I cannot work from home  – what financial assistance is available?

If you cannot work from home, your employer may be able to furlough you through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. The scheme will continue until April 2021. If your employer furloughs you, you will stay off work but get at least 80% of your normal salary. Your employer will also keep paying your National Insurance and pension contributions.

If your employer cannot furlough you, you may be able to get Statutory Sick Pay, Universal Credit, or other benefits. To find out what benefits you can get, speak to your employer, visit GOV.UK, or contact Citizens Advice Scotland. 

You should also ask your employer if they can offer any financial support if you cannot work.

I am self-employed and cannot work from home – what should I do?

The Job Retention Scheme (furlough) does not cover you if you are self-employed. Instead, find out if you can get support from the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme at GOV.UK.

Can I continue providing childcare for a family member during lockdown?

Follow the advice for the general population, which you can find on the Parent Club website. You should only use or provide informal childcare (babysitters, nannies, and care by family or friends) if there is no other option. Only children should enter the home of another household. 


The two letters sent out by the Chief Medical Officer on 5 January 2021 are:

  1. Letter to adults: The letter acts as a fit note for those who are unable to work at home in level 4 areas that are now under new lockdown restrictions.
  2.  Letter to children (age 17 and under): The letter advises children and young people who are on the shielding list not to attend school or college. The letter contains information for carers/parents on what to do if they need to stay home from work to look after a child.

These letters are attached on the right hand side.


Shielding is a measure to protect people who are clinically extremely vulnerable by minimising all interaction between those who are extremely vulnerable and others.

The Government is strongly advising people with serious underlying health conditions (listed below), which put them at very high risk of severe illness from coronavirus (COVID-19), to rigorously follow shielding measures in order to keep themselves safe.

Underlying health conditions:

  • Solid organ transplant recipients.
  • People with specific cancers:
    -people with cancer who are undergoing active chemotherapy or radical radiotherapy for lung cancer
    -people with cancers of the blood or bone marrow such as leukaemia, lymphoma or myeloma who are at any stage of treatment
    -people having immunotherapy or other continuing antibody treatments for cancer
    -people having other targeted cancer treatments which can affect the immune system, such as protein kinase inhibitors or PARP inhibitors
    -people who have had bone marrow or stem cell transplants in the last 6 months, or who are still taking immunosuppression drugs
  • People with severe respiratory conditions including all cystic fibrosis, severe asthma and severe COPD.
  • People with rare diseases and inborn errors of metabolism that significantly increase the risk of infections (such as SCID, homozygous sickle cell).
  • People on immunosuppression therapies sufficient to significantly increase risk of infection.
  • Women who are pregnant with significant heart disease, congenital or acquired.

Planning meetings have been taking place to map out the council and health and social care support for the national ‘shielding’ plans to support extremely vulnerable residents.

A phone-line has been installed to provide a local contact support to people in Inverclyde receiving national communication about this from the NHS.

Covid-19 Support Helpline

Please call 01475 715275 for assistance with access to provisions, support and advice, Monday to Thursday 9am - 5pm / Friday 9am - 4pm.