Family and friends will be able to visit hospital patients from this week as lockdown eases.
Until now, hospital visits during the pandemic have only been permitted in limited essential circumstances including where a patient is reaching the end of their life, as a birthing partner or where people with mental health issues would be left distressed if they did not receive a visit.
From Monday, July 13, patients can have a designated visitor, though they will have to follow strict public health guidance and must arrange a time to visit in advance with ward staff and not visit any other patient in the hospital.
They must also adhere to hand hygiene and face covering guidance, maintain strict physical distancing in communal areas of the hospital and not visit if they have symptoms of Covid-19.
Health secretary Jeane Freeman said: “Restricting access to people in hospital has been necessary to keep patients and staff as safe as possible and it has helped us protect the capacity and resilience of NHS Scotland.
“I want to thank everyone who has followed this guidance as I know how hard it has been for patients, families and carers not to have seen their loved ones in hospital.
“The continued progress we are making in suppressing the virus has allowed us to safely, and in a series of phases, resume hospital visiting in line with clinical expert advice.
“There is a need to balance the risk of physical and psychological harm that the absence of visitors can cause, with the gradual reduction of Covid-19. We have worked with Health Protection Scotland to plan how we safely restore a person-centred approach to visiting in Scotland’s hospitals.
“The safety of patients, staff and visitors will continue to be our priority.”
Patients with Covid-19 can have essential visitors.
The Scottish Government said that specific visiting arrangements may vary between health boards depending on the type of care patients are receiving, and the space available in different care settings to maintain physical distancing.