New Year’s Eve: What are the Covid rules as millions prepare to see in 2022

·4-min read
Edinburgh’s Hogmanay celebrations in 2020  (PA Archive)
Edinburgh’s Hogmanay celebrations in 2020 (PA Archive)

Millions of people in England will be able to celebrate New Year’s Eve in England after Boris Johnson decided against fresh curbs to limit the spread of Covid.

It comes despite Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland introducing new measures following the rapid spread of the Omicron variant.

The prime minister has urged Britons to celebrate cautiously on New Year’s Eve and take a lateral flow test before socialising. Plan B guidance, including vaccine passports for indoor venues and working from home, remains in effect.

With the four nations all taking a different approach, the Standard look at what you can and can’t do on New Year’s Eve depending on where you live.

England

Millions of people will be able to ring in the New Year in England with nightclubs set to remain open and no social distancing regulations imposed on hospitality venues. There are no limits on gatherings.

However, Plan B rules introduced earlier this month will still apply.

As part of the measures, masks must be worn in cinemas, theatres and churches as well as museums, galleries and community centres. The mask mandate also covers shops, post offices and banks, beauty salons, hairdressers and taxi rides.

You must also wear a face covering while on public transport, though they are not required in hospitality venues.

People in England should work from home where possible but the guidance is not a legal requirement.

Vaccine certification is also required as a condition of entry at “nightclubs and settings where large crowds gather”.

This includes unseated indoor events with 500 or more attendees, unseated outdoor events with 4,000 or more people and any event with 10,000 or more people present.

Those entering venues must show they are fully vaccinated or that they have received a negative lateral flow test.

If a vaccinated person in England has tested positive or has symptoms, they can stop self-isolating after seven days instead of 10 days if they receive two negative lateral flow test results on days six and seven.

Scotland

New rules on social gatherings in Scotland came in to force on Monday, with meetings limited to three households at indoor and outdoor venues like bars, restaurants, theatres, cinemas and gyms.

A day earlier, restrictions were brought in to ensure one-metre physical distancing at large events, with limits of 100 people standing indoors, 200 people sitting indoors and 500 people outdoors.

This means nightclubs have also been forced to shut for New Year’s Eve. Table service is also required in venues where alcohol is being served.

First minister Nicola Sturgeon has also urged Scots to stay at home as much as possible as cases of the Omicron variant continue to surge.

Ms Sturgeon said: “Over Hogmanay and New Year’s Day, and for at least the first week in January, we are advising everyone to stay at home more than normal, to reduce contacts with people outside our own households, and to limit the size of any indoor social gatherings that do take place so that they don’t include people from any more than three households.”

The existing restrictions on hospitality, events and retail are expected to remain in place until January 17, Ms Sturgeon confirmed earlier this week.

Wales

Earlier this month, first minister Mark Drakeford closed nightclubs and announced a return to the rule of six inside pubs and restaurants from Boxing Day.

Licensed premises will have to offer table service only, face masks will have to be worn and contact tracing details collected and two-metre social distancing rules are in place.

A maximum of 30 people can attend indoor events and a maximum of 50 people at outdoor events.

People attending weddings or civil partnership receptions or wakes are also being told to take a lateral flow test before attending.

Sporting events will be played behind closed doors to help control the spread of the new Omicron variant.

Northern Ireland

Nightclubs will be closed on New Year’s Eve in Northern Ireland.

Dancing will also be prohibited in hospitality venues, but this will not apply to weddings.

People must remain seated for table service, while table numbers will be limited to six.

Ministers also agreed that sporting events can continue with no limits on capacity, while the work-from-home message has been bolstered and legislation introduced to require social distancing in offices and similar type workplaces.

Weddings are exempted from the latest measures.

From December 27, the guidance is for mixing in a domestic setting to be limited to three households.

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