What are the changing Covid rules across the UK’s nations?

·5-min read

Coronavirus restrictions are changing across the UK.

Northern Ireland and Scotland are creeping towards a lesser degree of restriction, while pressure builds in England and Wales to impose stricter measures.

However, the most major change is set to come following Transport Secretary Grant Schapps’ announcement that remaining countries on England’s red list for international travel will be removed.

The Cabinet minister announced that the Latin American countries of Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Haiti, Panama, Peru and Venezuela will be taken off the list at 4am on November 1.

The Government will also recognise coronavirus vaccines for arrivals from more than 30 new countries and territories including Peru and Uganda.

This means arrivals will no longer need to spend 11 nights in a quarantine hotel at a cost of £2,285.

But what are the current rules and outlook for each of the countries.

– Let’s look at England:

England has the most relaxed rules of any UK country, with no legal restrictions except for the requirement to self-isolate for 10 days following a positive Coronavirus test.

Restrictions have been lifted in England since July, including the mandatory wearing of masks in indoor settings.

In London, face coverings still remain compulsory on the capital’s transport network.

HEALTH Coronavirus
(PA Graphics)

People in West Yorkshire and South Yorkshire need to continue wearing face coverings in bus stations operated by the combined authorities, while passengers using the Metro in the North East and Greater Manchester’s Metrolink tram services are still required to wear them.

All legal limits on the numbers meeting indoors and outdoors have been scrapped and all businesses have reopened, including nightclubs.

People can attend concerts, theatre and sports events and the one metre-plus rule on social distancing has ended.

England is currently operating under Plan A – which involves offering booster jabs to the most vulnerable, a single dose to healthy 12 to 15-year-olds and encouraging unvaccinated people to get jabbed.

But Labour is calling for the Government to introduce Plan B measures, which include advising people to work from home, mandatory Covid passports, and making masks compulsory.

– What’s the situation in Wales?

The Welsh Government confirmed that it will adopt the same changes to the Red List and vaccine recognition.

First Minister Mark Drakeford brought in new rules on Thursday in response to rising hospital admissions in Wales and said he “regrets” the British Government’s decision to relax travel rules – even though Wales will mirror them.

Mr Drakeford said around 2,000 people in Wales had been identified as having a new version of the Delta variant.

He added preliminary investigations had found the variant was about 10% more transmissible, and those affected were about 10% more likely to become seriously ill.

Adults who are fully vaccinated, and young people aged five to 17, will be asked to self-isolate until they have received a negative PCR test if someone in their household has symptoms or tests positive for Covid-19.

People who are not vaccinated will still have to self-isolate for 10 days following contact with someone who has tested positive, including close contacts outside of their household.

Head teachers will be given extra support to quickly put measures in place in their schools if case rates are high locally.

Staff and secondary school students will also be encouraged to take twice-weekly lateral flow tests to help keep coronavirus out of schools.

The Welsh Government also intends to extend the use of the Covid Pass to theatres, cinemas and concert halls from November 15.

However, the country will remain at alert level zero.

– How about Scotland?

The devolved Scottish Government has not announced its position on the Red List changes, but has followed the UK Government’s lead in the past.

Nicola Sturgeon this week announced that some hospitals in the country were “at capacity” and committed £482 million to help in the fight against Covid – as she warned that the Cop26 international climate conference “inevitably” poses a risk of increased transmission of the virus

While cases in Scotland had been declining, Ms Sturgeon said this had now levelled off, with the most recent figures showing a “slight increase”.

Masks are still required in public indoor space, public transport, schools for staff and secondary school pupils.

Customers at restaurants and bars are being urged to check in with the NHS Covid-19 app and must wear masks when not seated.

Social distancing rules have been scrapped, other than in healthcare settings such as hospitals, GP surgeries and dentists.

Vaccine passes have been introduced for large indoor venues with more than 500 people, unseated outdoor events with more than 4,000 people, and any event with more than 10,000 people.

The Scottish government is also advising people to work from home where possible.

However, travel to Scotland from overseas will become slightly less onerous from Sunday – with the country requiring only a negative lateral flow test with photo ID instead of the more expensive PCR test.

– What’s the situation in Northern Ireland:

Stormont has not revealed its position in relation to the removal of all remaining countries on the Red List, but has followed the UK Government in the past.

Northern Ireland will gain some new freedoms on Sunday with the lifting of social distancing in pubs and bars.

However, rules preventing more than 30 people from meeting up in indoor domestic contexts remains.

Face masks are still required in public indoor spaces, on public transport and at tourist attractions

Working from home advice remains where possible.

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