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

·6-min read

Coronavirus restrictions are being lifted across the UK.

In recent days political leaders have urged the public to stay cautious and continue to take necessary measures against Covid-19 as places begin to open up.

Coronavirus – Mon Jul 19, 2021
People queue for the Viaduct Bar in Leeds, after the final legal coronavirus restrictions were lifted in England at midnight (Ioannis Alexopoulos/PA)

Here, the PA news agency takes a look at when rules are set to change across the four nations:

– What is the situation in Wales?

First Minister Mark Drakeford confirmed last Wednesday that almost all coronavirus restrictions in Wales will be lifted on August 7, but said the wearing of face masks will remain compulsory on public transport and in most indoor settings.

On July 17 some rules were eased as the country moved into alert Level 1 – after a four-week delay due to the spread of the Delta variant.

Up to six people can now meet indoors in private homes and holiday accommodation, while organised indoor events will be able to take place with up to 1,000 people seated and up to 200 standing, and ice rinks can reopen.

As of Saturday, there are also no limits on how many people can meet outdoors, in public places or at events. Everyone aged 11 and over must still wear face coverings in all indoor public places unless exceptions apply.

If the alert level gets downgraded next month, all premises will be able to open and most restrictions will be removed and replaced with the ongoing requirement for all organisations and businesses to carry out Covid risk assessments.

– What about England?

All remaining legal restrictions have been lifted in England from Monday, including the mandatory wearing of masks in indoor settings.

In London, face coverings still remain compulsory on the capital’s transport network, in a move pushed by Mayor Sadiq Khan and backed by Transport Secretary Grant Shapps.

Coronavirus – Mon Jul 19, 2021
Face coverings are still required on public transport in London, excluding those with exemptions, due to a push by Mayor Sadiq Khan (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

The Government has called for the public to exercise caution, with a recommendation that masks should still be used in crowded and enclosed spaces.

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 now been scrapped and all businesses can 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 has ended.

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The instruction to work from home has been 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, from Monday children and adults who have been fully vaccinated against coronavirus do not have to quarantine on their return to England from amber list countries.

The exception is France, with fully-vaccinated travellers returning to England still required to quarantine, following a last-minute Government announcement.

The Spanish islands of Ibiza, Majorca and Menorca have been added to the Government’s amber travel list due to a surge in Covid cases. The change will affect those returning to England, Scotland and Wales.

Bulgaria and Hong Kong have been added to the green list – meaning there is no requirement to isolate on return, while Croatia and Taiwan have been added to the “green watchlist” meaning they are at risk of going amber.

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.

From August 16, those who have allowed their second jab a fortnight to take effect and all under-18s will not have to self-isolate if they come into close contact with someone who has Covid and will instead be advised to take a PCR test. If the result is negative, they will not need to isolate or take another test.

– What does the future look like for Scotland?

Scotland entered Level 0 of the five-tier system on Monday, but restrictions will still continue on social distancing and the number of people meeting both indoors and outdoors.

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

Coronavirus – Sun Jun 27, 2021
Nicola Sturgeon encouraged Scotland to remain cautious as restrictions gradually lift (Jeff J Mitchell/PA)

Indoor gathering restrictions in homes have been eased 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. Soft play centres can also open from Monday.

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

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

– 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. Most of the changes still need final ratification by Stormont ministers on Thursday.

From July 26, 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.

Theatres and concert halls may also be allowed to welcome back audiences, and conferences and exhibitions could be able to resume.

Under the plans, a limit on gatherings in private homes will 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.

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