Lockdown across the UK: How restrictions are being eased in each nation

PA Reporters
·7-min read

People in Scotland and Wales can look forward to returning social freedoms in the coming days after politicians announced plans for the further easing of lockdown measures.

In Wales, six people from different households will be able to meet outdoors from Saturday, while outdoor hospitality can reopen from Monday.

Meanwhile over in Scotland, cafes, beer gardens, shops and gyms are due to reopen on Monday.

Here is an overview of the state of restrictions across the different parts of the UK:

– What is changing in Wales?

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From Saturday, any six people can meet up outdoors, but meeting people from other households indoors is still not allowed unless in a limited number of circumstances.

Current rules allow up to six people – excluding children under 11 – to meet outside, but only from a maximum of two different households.

From Monday, pubs, restaurants, cafes and other hospitality businesses will be allowed to offer outdoor service again.

First Minister Mark Drakeford is expected to confirm more relaxations of restrictions at a press conference on Friday that will also come into force from Monday.

The planned changes follow the earlier permitted return of close-contact services such as hairdressers, the reopening of non-essential shops, students going back to school and travel from Wales to the UK, the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man and Ireland being allowed.

– What lies further ahead for Wales?

Earlier this month, the Welsh government announced it would lift restrictions on indoor household mingling earlier than planned, on May 3 instead of May 10, following a better-than-expected drop in coronavirus cases.

The reopening of gyms and leisure centres has also been brought forward by a week to May 3, including for one-to-one training, although group exercise classes remain banned.

All dates are “subject to the public health situation remaining favourable” and will be confirmed at a review of coronavirus regulations on April 22, the Welsh Government previously said.

It is likely children’s indoor activities, community centres, and organised indoor activities for adults for up to 15 people will resume from May 17.

After May 17, the Welsh government will consider opening up indoor hospitality and remaining visitor accommodation to reopen in advance of the spring bank holiday.

– What is changing in Scotland next week?

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has confirmed that on Monday Scotland will move from Level 4 to Level 3 of the Scottish Government’s five tiers of restrictions.

This means cafes, restaurants and beer gardens can open, along with non-essential shops, gyms, swimming pools, libraries and museums.

Hospitality will need to close at 8pm indoors, with alcohol only allowed to be served outside.

People will be able to meet others for a meal or drink, with up to six people from two households allowed to socialise in a public place.

Driving lessons and tests will be able to resume, and close-contact services such as beauty parlours can also return.

Funerals and weddings – including post-funeral events and receptions – will be permitted to take place with up to 50 people, with alcohol allowed.

Travel between Scotland, England and Wales will be also be permitted and tourist accommodation can welcome back visitors.

It will come after people were given permission to leave their local authority area for the purposes of socialising, recreation or exercise and the rules on gatherings were relaxed to allow six adults from up to six households to meet up outside.

– When are other changes expected in Scotland?

Coronavirus � Fri Apr 16, 2021
The Cullen family from Glasgow enjoy a picnic on Conic Hill (Jane Barlow/PA)

From May 17, pubs are set to open indoors until 10.30pm and contact sports and some small scale events can take place.

Cinemas, theatres, comedy clubs, amusement arcades and bingo halls can open, and universities and colleges can return to a more blended model of learning.

Up to four people from two households can socialise indoors in a private home, and six from three households in public places.

From June 7, up to eight people from up to three households can socialise indoors in a public place and up to six people from up to three households in a private place.

Up to 12 people from 12 households can socialise outdoors.

Hospitality can remain open indoors until 11pm, funfairs and soft play can open and attendance at events can increase.

Then from late June, up to 10 people from up to four households can meet indoors in a public place and up to eight people from up to four households in a private place.

The limits on meeting outdoors changes to 15 people from 15 households and the number of people allowed at events will again increase.

– What is the outlook for Northern Ireland?

Coronavirus – Mon Jul 6, 2020
Cambridge Barbershop on Belfast’s Lisburn Road (Liam McBurney/PA)

The number of people who can meet outdoors in a garden, including children, has already increased from six to 10 in Northern Ireland.

Its “stay at home” messaging has been replaced with a “stay local” and “work from home” message, amid some other easing of measures such as the return of the remainder of post-primary students.

The next key relaxation dates are April 23, April 30 and May 24.

Hairdressers can reopen on April 23, pubs and cafes can serve people outdoors from April 30 and indoors from May 24, under the new plans.

Hotels will be able to fully reopen on May 24 as well.

The May 24 date is indicative and subject to another Executive review earlier in that month.

– What can people in England do now?

Coronavirus – Mon Apr 12, 2021
Allerton Manor golf course’s new outdoor 250 seater beer garden (Peter Byrne/PA)

Shops, hairdressers, nail salons, libraries and outdoor hospitality venues such as beer gardens were allowed to reopen on April 12.

Most outdoor attractions, such as zoos and theme parks, could reopen, although wider social-distancing rules still apply to prevent indoor mixing between different households.

Indoor leisure facilities such as gyms and swimming pools opened, but for use by people on their own or in household groups.

Funerals can continue with up to 30 people, and the numbers able to attend weddings, receptions and commemorative events such as wakes rose from six to 15.

It follows from a previous round of easing on March 29 allowing six people from any number of households or a group of any size from up to two households to gather in parks and gardens.

Outdoor sports facilities such as tennis and basketball courts reopened, with organised adult and children’s sport, including grassroots football, able to return.

People are still being asked to work from home where possible, and overseas travel remains banned.

– What happens next in England?

HEALTH Coronavirus
(PA Graphics)

From no earlier than May 17, most social contact rules outside will be lifted although gatherings of more than 30 will remain illegal.

Indoors, the rule of six or two households will apply although the Government has said it will keep under review whether it is safe to increase this.

Indoor hospitality, entertainment venues such as cinemas and soft play areas, the rest of the accommodation sector, and indoor adult group sports and exercise classes will also reopen.

Limited crowds will also be allowed at sporting events.

All remaining restrictions on social contact could be lifted from June 21, allowing for larger events to go ahead and nightclubs to reopen.

The Government has said there will be a minimum of five weeks between each set of restrictions easing, to give it time to assess the impact on public health.

Lockdown easing will depend on the vaccine rollout continuing smoothly and evidence the vaccine is reducing hospital admissions and deaths.

It also depends on there being no evidence a surge in infection rates could potentially overwhelm the NHS, and the level of risk not being fundamentally changed by new variants of concern.