When are changes to Covid rules expected across the UK’s four nations?

·4-min read

Scotland is to move to Level 0 of coronavirus restrictions on July 19, with some changes to original plans due to the spread of the Delta variant.

Here, the PA news agency takes a look at when rules are set to change across the UK’s four nations.

– What is the situation in Scotland?

Nicola Sturgeon confirmed the country is set to move to Level 0 of the five-tier system on Monday, but restrictions will continue on physical distancing and numbers meeting both indoors and outdoors.

The First Minister said that face coverings will remain mandatory for “some time to come”, while social distancing is set to be reduced to one metre inside public places.

Indoor gathering restrictions in homes will be lifted to allow up to eight people from up to four households to meet, while a group of up to 10 can meet inside a pub or restaurant.

Some physical distancing rules are to be maintained outdoors, and the 11pm closure time for pubs operating indoors will be changed to midnight – a change from original plans to scrap the limit entirely.

The planned “gradual return to the office” will also be postponed until August 9, when Scotland plans to move beyond Level 0.

The central belt of Scotland is currently in Level 2 of measures, with the rest of the mainland in Level 1 and most of the islands in Level 0.

– What is the near future looking like in England?

Boris Johnson confirmed on Monday that all remaining legal restrictions will be lifted in England from July 19, but the Government is urging a more cautious approach in response to soaring coronavirus cases.

All legal limits on the numbers meeting indoors and outdoors will be scrapped and all businesses will reopen, including nightclubs – for the first time since March 2020.

The Government is recommending that businesses use “certification” as a basis of entry to venues deemed “high risk”, especially when prevalence of coronavirus is high as it is currently.

People can attend concerts, theatre and sports events and the one-metre-plus rule on social distancing will end, while the legal obligation to wear a face covering will also be removed.

However, the Prime Minister said that ministers “expect and recommend” that people continue to wear one in crowded and enclosed spaces, such as on public transport.

The instruction to work from home will be scrapped, although ministers are encouraging firms to implement a gradual return to the office, and the limit on named visitors to care homes will be lifted.

In a move towards restarting international travel, children and adults who have been fully vaccinated against coronavirus will not have to quarantine on their return from amber list countries to England from July 19.

Meanwhile, rules on 10-day self-isolation periods in England are being eased for the fully vaccinated and under-18s, but not until August 16.

– What about in Wales?

First Minister Mark Drakeford is expected to make a statement on Wednesday setting out further details on the new Alert Level Zero for Wales.

The country is currently at Alert Level One, meaning people must not meet with more than five other people in settings such as restaurants and pubs, and face coverings are mandatory in all indoor public places.

At present, extended households can be formed between three households, while up to 30 people can meet in an outdoor area, including private gardens.

Mr Drakeford has reminded people that changes announced by Mr Johnson “apply to England only” and ministers in Wales have insisted they will not be rushed into a decision about scrapping restrictions.

– And Northern Ireland?

A further wave of coronavirus relaxations will come into effect on July 26, including the end of social distancing requirements for outdoor activities and a reduction of the distance to one metre for indoor settings.

Members of the public enjoy a drink and a meal in Belfast
Members of the public enjoy a drink and a meal in Belfast (Mark Marlow/PA)

From that date, people returning from amber list countries who have been fully vaccinated in the UK will not have to self-isolate on arrival in Northern Ireland or take a test eight days after their return.

Some measures, such as theatres and concert halls being allowed to welcome back audiences and conferences and exhibitions being able to resume, need final ratification by Stormont ministers on July 22.

Under the plans, a limit on gatherings in private homes would increase from six to 10, from no more than three households, while 15 people from any number of households can meet in a private garden.

The legal requirement to wear face coverings in places of worship is also set to be removed on July 26, and in terms of schools, classroom bubbling and the use of face masks in classes are to be removed from guidance.