When is the October half term in Scotland? 2020 October school holiday dates - and whether you can go on holiday

New restrictions in Scotland have left many families wondering whether to re-book or cancel holiday plans for October half term.

Thursday, 8th October 2020, 10:43 am
Many families are considering staycations this year as coronavirus cases spike in Europe.
Many families are considering staycations this year as coronavirus cases spike in Europe.

After a return to school in August, the next break for school pupils in Scotland will be in October.

These are the dates for the October half term, along with current advice on booking a break away.

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When is the October half term?

Generally in Scotland, October half term will fall somewhere between October 18 and October 21.

However, this may vary depending on where in the country you’re located, and what school your child attends.

You can check the exact dates for October half term by selecting your local council area on this website.

What are the new restrictions in Scotland?

In her announcement on October 7, Ms Sturgeon said any new measures imposed on hospitality venues are intended to be enforced for 16 days, from 6pm on Friday 9 October to Sunday 25 October.

“In other words, across the next two weeks and three weekends,” the First Minister clarified.

Pubs, bars restaurants and cafes will be able to operate indoors on the following restricted basis:

- During the day from 6am to 6pm

- For the service of food and non-alcoholic beverages only

- Hotel restaurants will be able to operate beyond 6pm, but only for residents, and without alcohol

The First Minister said that there would be exceptions for these rules across all parts of Scotland, which apply to celebrations associated with specific life events. These events include weddings that are already booked and funerals, where current rules will continue to apply.

The central belt will see tougher restrictions, with all licenced premises (with the exception of hotels for residents) required to close, both indoors and outdoors. Takeaways will be permitted, however.

Cafes which do not have an alcohol licence will be able to stay open until 6pm.

Additionally, snooker and pool halls, indoor bowling alleys, casinos and bingo halls will also be required to close in these areas for two weeks, from 10 October.

Contact sport for people aged 18 and over will be suspended for the next two weeks, with the exception for professional sport.

Indoor group exercise activities will not be allowed, although the current rules will remain in place for those under 18.

Outdoor live events will not be permitted in the central belt either, for the next two weeks.

The government is advising people living in these specific areas not to travel outside of the health board area they live in if it’s not necessary.

“Likewise, people in other parts of Scotland should not travel to these areas if they don’t need to,” Ms Sturgeon clarified.

Can I go on holiday during half term?

After a significant spike in coronavirus cases, Scotland has seen renewed restrictions introduced on everyday life, with the central belt worst affected.

The Scottish government is currently advising against non-essential foreign travel abroad. A few weeks ago, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon implored families not to book foreign travel for the October Half Term.

While restrictions on the distance you can travel within Scotland no longer apply, people are being asked not to visit parts of the central belt under tougher restrictions, or any other area in the UK with lockdown measures in place.

If you live in the central belt, the government has advised against all but essential travel outside of your health board area.

People in the central belt are also being asked to avoid public transport, unless necessary for school or work.

Holidays within Scotland are still permitted for people outside of the central belt, but bear in mind that households are not allowed to mix currently, meaning you shouldn’t go away with anyone outside your household.

It’s possible new lockdown measures may create the need to cancel your “staycation” holiday. You should check the terms and conditions of your travel and accommodation provider carefully for refund policies in the event of cancellation. You can check what local measures are in place in your area here.

What are my rights in case of cancellation?

Generally, if the travel company or airline you have booked with has cancelled, you are entitled to a full refund, although during the coronavirus pandemic, this hasn’t always been straightforward.

You are also entitled to a refund even if the travel company you have booked with collapses - as has been the case with some in the past couple of months.

You can attempt to get money back from your card firm if you booked with a debit or credit card, if you’re having difficulty getting the money back from a travel company.

The situation is slightly more complicated if your holiday or travel provider hasn’t cancelled, but restrictions on movement are in place.

In some cases, such as if the Foreign Office is advising against travel to the country you’re due to visit, you may be able to claim money back on insurance - if your policy covers coronavirus.

However, if your provider doesn’t cancel, but you are simply worried about your safety, getting money back can be slightly tricky.

You should check the details of your booking carefully, and research your rights in case of cancellation.