LGBTI & COVID-19

Guidance

What tier is your area in? What does each tier mean? The steps being taken to stop the spread of COVID-19 will adapt as time moves on, we try to interpret the rules for LGBTI people.

Ever since COVID-19 first emerged there has been guidance from the Scottish Government and NHS Scotland on how to keep yourself safe. This guidance has, and continues to, change over time.

The national lockdown may now be over, but as a new tiered system comes into place, the rules will vary. One of the most important things you can do to protect yourself is to follow FACTS.

What are FACTS?

FACTS are five things you can do to stay safe during the COVID-19 pandemic

Face Coverings

  • Mandatory on public transport, in shops, in certain indoor public places and should be worn where distancing is difficult
  • Babies, toddlers and children under 5 should not wear them
  • Not required where the person cannot put on, wear or remove a face covering because of any mental or physical illness, impairment, or disability and invisible disability, people who need to communicate with someone who has difficulties communicating, or where it will cause severe distress for the wearer or person in the care of the wearer
  • Should be snug yet comfortable, allowing proper breathing while completely covering nose and mouth
  • Wash reusable ones after each use and bin disposable ones responsibly, cleaning hands before and after handling

Avoid Crowded Places

  • Close proximity to others seriously risks spreading the virus, even outdoors
  • If somewhere looks busy, leave and try again another time

Clean Hands and Surfaces Regularly

  • Wash hands often with soap and water for 20+ seconds, especially after going out or meeting with other households
  • When out, avoid touching hard surfaces and sanitise hands frequently
  • Clean surfaces regularly as the virus can live on them for 72 hours

Two Metre Social Distancing

  • Keep 2 metres (6 feet) away from others where possible
  • Applies both indoors and outdoors
  • Limited exceptions for public transport, hospitality and retail
  • Children under 12 are exempt

Self-isolate and Book a Test if You Have Symptoms

If you have any coronavirus symptoms, you and your household should isolate and you should book a test straight away at NHSinform.scot or by calling 0800 028 2816 if you cannot get online.


COVID Protection Levels

Each local authority area in Scotland has a COVID protection level or tier. There are 5 different levels starting from 0 to 4. The lowest level is 0 and the highest level is 4.

Mainland Scotland and some islands are at Level 4. Guidance to stay local will be lifted from Friday 16th April.

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar (Western Isles), Orkney Islands & Shetland Islands are at Level 3.  As are the following islands in Argyll and Bute: Coll, Colonsay, Erraid, Gometra, Iona, Islay, Jura, Mull, Oronsay, Tiree, and Ulva; all islands in Highland, except for Skye which is at Level 4

The tier levels are reviewed regularly. You can find a full breakdown of what you can and can’t do in each tier on the Scottish Government Website. You can also use their postcode checker to find out which tier applies where you live here.

Tier 0

  • Indoor meetings allowed – maximum of 8 people from 3 households.
  • Fifteen people from five households can meet outdoors.
  • Young people aged between 12 and 17 can meet up in groups of up to 8 at a time outdoors with no household limit and physical distancing.

Tier 1

  • 6 people from up to 2 households can meet indoors in a public place such as a bar, pub, café or restaurant.
  •  8 people from 3 households can meet outdoors.

Tier 2

  • No meetings with other households in your home
  • 6 people from up to 2 households can meet outdoors or in hospitality settings
  • Pubs permitted to sell alcohol indoors only with a main meal – time restrictions to hospitality venues will apply

Tier 3

  • No meetings with other households in your home
  • 6 people from up to 2 households can meet outdoors or in hospitality settings
  • Alcohol sales not permitted indoors or outdoors
  • Restaurants able to remain open following social distancing guidelines

Tier 4

  • No meetings with other households in your home
  • 4 people from up to 2 households can meet outdoors in a park or garden
  • Restaurants, cafes, pubs and bars will be closed, only essential retail will be able to remain open

From 16 April you can:

  • travel anywhere in Scotland to meet outdoors with family and friends
  • meet in groups of up to 6 adults from 6 households outdoors

Getting Vaccinated

NHS Scotland will be in touch with you to arrange your vaccination appointment when you are eligible.

Those who have already been invited or are currently being invited to be vaccinated are:

  • residents in a care home for older adults and their carers
  • front line health and social care workers
  • clinically extremely vulnerable individuals
  • everyone aged 50 and over
  • those aged 16 to 64 with underlying health conditions which put them at higher risk of serious disease and mortality
  • all adults with a learning disability – mild, moderate, severe and profound
  • unpaid carers aged 16 to 64

The UK Government announced on the 12th of April that everyone over the age of 50 had now received an invitation to a vaccine appointment. Those in the over 40s age group will begin receiving their appointment invitations shortly.

Meeting up With Others

We know the lockdown was difficult for LGBTI people, and no doubt how we emerge from it will pose challenges too.

The Scottish Government guidance is important for community groups and LGBTI people thinking about how they emerge from lockdown. We have training and support available for community groups thinking about how they will meet going forwards. Check out our Facebook page for LGBTI Community Groups.

Where you can meet people from another household indoors you should:

  • minimise the number of meetings you have with people from other households each day
  • stay at least 2 metres apart from anyone who is not part of your household, unless in a public venue that is operating 1 metre distancing with additional measures being in place to avoid transmission.
  • maintain hand and cough hygiene
  • avoid touching hard surfaces with your hands
  • wash your hands when you arrive, when you leave, when you get home and especially before eating or after touching surfaces
  • not share food or utensils – if eating, each household should bring, prepare and eat its own food separately
  • if possible, keep rooms well ventilated – consider opening windows or a door

Emergency Legislation

The Scottish Parliament unanimously passed the Coronavirus (Scotland) Act 2020 on the 1st April 2020. The act builds on the UK Parliament’s Cononavirus Act 2020 in areas that are devolved to the Scottish Parliament.

The measures in the Act are limited for the duration of the coronavirus outbreak have now been extended until  30th September 2021, although some measures will cease on 30th June pending subject to any further extension which may be granted.

Find out more here.

Trans Healthcare

Our Scottish Trans project has been assured that there is no reason to expect that your prescriptions for hormones during the coronavirus outbreak will not continue from your GP as normal.

Some people who are on injectable hormones could find that their GP practice is unable to administer the injections at the current time. If this is the case, please ask you GP to switch you onto a different preparation of your hormones that don’t require injecting – you can give your GP all of the information they need by showing them this document from the National Gender Identity Clinical Network for Scotland (NGICNS). This should allow them to smoothly change your prescription, but if they are still unsure they can contact one of the GICs for further advice. 

However, if you do encounter any problems with continuing your hormones during this time, you should contact the Gender Identity Clinic that covers the area you live in, even if you are not currently or have never been a patient there. They have told us that they will try to solve any problems you are having. If you email your GIC, include your phone number so they can call you back. Some GICs cannot discuss patient treatment by email. You can see a list of contact numbers for GICs on our website.

We have been told by Inverness GIC that they have already contacted their patients to check that there is no problem with their hormone prescriptions. 

If you are accessing your hormones via a private provider, you should be able to continue this as usual. If you are temporarily unable to access your private prescription then your NHS GP may be willing to consider providing a bridging prescription during that time, as a harm reduction measure. However they are not obliged to. 

It is a very stressful time for everyone, and our NHS has been under great strain. Please get in touch with Scottish Trans if you are having problems continuing your hormones and have been unable to solve the issue using the above info. If so, Scottish Trans will do everything we can to help.

Trans Health UK have been keeping up to date info about Gender Identity Clinics during COVID-19. You can find it at: https://transhealthuk.noblogs.org/covid-19-gender-identity-clinics/#scotland

Intersex Resources

With intersex communities in mind, InterACT have created this COVID-19 starter pack with tips and resources to help get people through the pandemic. You can find it on their website here.

Sex, COVID-19 and Physical Distancing

Is it safe to date or have sex during the coronavirus pandemic? Our friends HIV Scotland have produced a ‘what you need to know’ Q&A section on their website here.