When will the lockdowns end in each UK nation?

Thomas Hornall, PA
·4-min read

England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales are all currently under restrictive national lockdowns to try and halt the spread of Covid-19.

People have been under orders for weeks not to leave home except for an essential purpose, including shopping for necessities, going to work if you cannot do so from home, and exercising outdoors in your local area.

Political leaders have also voiced concern about new, more contagious variants of Covid-19.

But with more than 6.4 million first doses of vaccine administered in Great Britain – when will the lockdowns end and what is the current situation in each nation?

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England

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is examining whether some lockdown measures in England could be lifted once the highest priority groups have been vaccinated – which is expected to be completed by mid-February.

England’s lockdown restrictions, imposed in early January, are due to be reviewed on February 15.

Mr Johnson also said England’s schools would reopen “as fast as possible” but could not guarantee that pupils would return to classes before Easter.

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From this week, fines of £800 will be slapped on people caught at house parties as part of tougher measures to crack down on illegal gatherings during the pandemic.

The penalty will apply for groups of over 15 people and will double after each offence up to a maximum of £6,400 for repeat offenders, the Home Secretary said.

More evidence has emerged that England’s national lockdown is having an impact on the spread of coronavirus.

Case rates are down in every region, with most now at their lowest since before the start of 2021,the latest figures show.

In another development the Moderna coronavirus vaccine, due to arrive in the UK in the spring, was found to be effective against all emerging mutations of the virus that have been detected to date, the company said on Monday.

This includes the new strain first detected in south east England that scientists say is more transmissible than the previous variant and may be more deadly.

Scotland

On Boxing Day all of mainland Scotland and some islands were put under level 4 restrictions.

It was enhanced in early January to a “temporary lockdown” with new guidance making it a legal requirement to stay at home except if someone has an “essential reason” which includes work, food shopping, or caring responsibilities.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said the tough measures will remain in place until at least the middle of February.

SCOTLAND Coronavirus
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Shops, retailers and many other businesses must remain closed until mid-February, while Ms Sturgeon also confirmed last week that schools and nurseries across Scotland will stay closed to most youngsters until at least the middle of next month. They had been due to reopen to all pupils from February 1.

But on Monday Ms Sturgeon said there is “early evidence” that lockdown restrictions are working and starting to reduce case numbers, adding: “We think we may have some cautious grounds for optimism that admissions to hospital are starting to tail off slightly.”

Some 415,402 people have received their first dose of a coronavirus vaccine and the Scottish Government is on track to meet its target to vaccinate everyone over the age of 70 by mid-February, Ms Sturgeon added.

Northern Ireland

An extended shutdown closing non-essential retailers, keeping schools closed to most pupils and encouraging employees to work from home began after Christmas and had been scheduled to end in February.

But it was extended by Stormont ministers last Thursday for a further four weeks until March 5 amid new, more contagious strains of the virus and slowly decreasing transmission rates.

Coronavirus – Fri Jan 8, 2020
A man walks down a quiet street in Belfast city centre as the six week lockdown in Northern Ireland continues (Brian Lawless/PA)

Curbs may not ultimately be lifted until Easter.

Stormont First Minister Arlene Foster said extending the lockdown “will be disappointing to many people”.

She said: “I think particularly of those who are feeling the pain of separation from loved family members and friends, for workers and employers worried about their livelihoods and indeed parents who are juggling the education of their children with work and other responsibilities.”

The outlook for schools is yet to be decided.

Wales

Wales entered a national lockdown on December 20.

The Welsh Government formally reviews Covid-19 regulations – including school closures – every three weeks, with the next review due by January 29.

Coronavirus
Vaughan Gething (Isabel Infantes/PA)

But health minister Vaughan Gething said on Monday that there would likely be no “significant unlocking” of the country’s lockdown restrictions after they are reviewed at the end of this week.

Mr Gething said that the prevalence of a faster-spreading mutation of the virus in Wales means authorities are reluctant to significantly change the country’s restrictions, even if they were eased elsewhere in the UK.

“Of course the same challenges we face are being found in other parts of the UK too. The context may be slightly different, but it’s still the case that there’s huge pressure on our NHS and we’re not in a position to make any significant steps forward”, he told reporters in Cardiff on Monday.