How the UK’s four nations are planning to exit lockdown

Luke Powell, PA
·3-min read

Plans to ease Covid-19 lockdown restrictions in the UK vary across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

As Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on Monday how measures will be lifted in England, here is what we know about the other devolved nations’ plans to exit lockdown:

HEALTH Coronavirus Nations
(PA Graphics)

– Wales

Wales entered a national lockdown on December 20 – the earliest of any nation in the UK.

Two months on and its youngest pupils, aged three to seven, begun a phased return to classrooms, as of February 22.

From March 15, all primary school pupils, as well as older age groups in years 11 and 13 who have exams, could also return if the country’s public health situation continues to improve.

Meanwhile, First Minister Mark Drakeford said on Friday that stay-at-home restrictions in Wales could be eased in three weeks’ time.

Minor changes to the rules on Saturday also allowed up to four people from two households to exercise together outdoors.

Coronavirus – Sun Dec 20, 2020
Cardiff city centre (Ben Birchall/PA)

– Scotland

The youngest children in Scotland also returned to their classrooms on Monday as schools reopened to more pupils.

Children between the ages of four and eight in primaries one to three were due back along with some senior secondary pupils who need to do practical work for qualifications.

Scotland has been in national lockdown since January 5.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said Scotland’s route out of lockdown – which is due to be announced on Tuesday – would be “broadly similar” to the UK Government’s.

But she added that her plans would only give indications of the phasing of restrictions easing, and would not provide reopening dates.

Captain Sir Tom Moore death
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon (Jeff J Mitchell/PA)

– Northern Ireland

Lockdown restrictions were introduced in Northern Ireland on December 26, and have been extended to April 1 by The Stormont Executive.

However, First Minister Arlene Foster said a “decision-making framework” on how the executive plans to exit lockdown would be published on March 1.

Primary school pupils in year groups P1 to P3 will return to face-to-face learning on March 8, followed by secondary pupils in key exam years, year groups 12 to 14, on March 22.

The number of people able to gather outdoors will also increase from six to 10, from no more than two households, from March 8.

Coronavirus – Thu Jan 14, 2021
First Minister Arlene Foster (Brian Lawless/PA)

– England

Mr Johnson announced that pupils in all year groups can go back to the classroom from March 8, with outdoor after-school sports and activities also allowed to restart.

People will be permitted to have socially distanced one-to-one meetings with others outdoors in a public space.

Care home residents will be allowed a single visitor from this date, with visitors required to take a lateral flow test and wear personal protective equipment.

Larger groups will be allowed to gather in parks and gardens from March 29.

The “rule of six” will return, along with new measures allowing two households, totalling no more than six people, to meet. Outdoor organised sport will also return.

Coronavirus – Thu Jul 16, 2020
The measures will be eased across four stages (Joe Giddens/PA)

From April 12 at the earliest, shops, hairdressers, nail salons, libraries, outdoor attractions and outdoor hospitality venues such as beer gardens will be allowed to reopen

Two households, or groups of up to six people, will be allowed to mix indoors and limited crowds will be allowed at sporting events from May 17.

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