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What are the Covid rules in the four nations of the UK?

Many restrictions put in place in response to the new Omicron variant are set to end in the coming days.

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First Minister Nicola Sturgeon (PA)

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon (PA)

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon (PA)

Nicola Sturgeon has announced that all of Scotland’s coronavirus restrictions introduced in response to the Omicron wave will be brought to an end next Monday.

The First Minister told MSPs on Tuesday that the changes would be made as Scotland is now on the “downward slope” of infections from the Omicron wave of coronavirus.

However, some baseline restrictions will remain in place for the immediate future.

But how do the current rules compare across the four nations of the UK?

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Wales’ First Minister has set out a timetable for when its restrictions will end (Ben Birchall/PA)

Wales’ First Minister has set out a timetable for when its restrictions will end (Ben Birchall/PA)

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Wales’ First Minister has set out a timetable for when its restrictions will end (Ben Birchall/PA)

– What are the current rules in Scotland?

Since December 14, people have been asked to reduce their social contacts as much as possible by meeting in groups of no more than three households.

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Allowing staff to work from home where possible has become a legal duty on employers.

Care home visits have also been limited to two households.

Those coming into the country who are fully vaccinated are able to use a lateral flow test instead of a PCR as their post-arrival test, taken on or before the second day of their stay.

One-metre physical distancing is in place in all indoor hospitality and leisure settings.

Table service is also required where alcohol is being served.

Event organisers are required to review 50% or 1,000 Covid passports of attendees, whichever figure is higher.

There have been caps on the number of people attending events since Christmas. They include having a one-metre social distancing gap between guests and events limited to 100 people standing indoors and 200 people sitting indoors. However, there are no limits on the numbers of people attending outdoor events.

Scots also need to have a booster to be considered to be fully vaccinated – and only have a window of four months to get it after their second dose to be fully vaccinated.

– What is changing from next week?

Ms Sturgeon has announced that nightclub closures and the requirement for table service in hospitality will come to an end.

Attendance limits on indoor events and the guidance asking people to stick to a three-household limit on indoor gatherings will also be lifted.

However, some baseline coronavirus measures which were in place before the Omicron wave will remain.

This includes wearing face coverings in public indoor settings and on public transport, as well as working from home whenever it is possible.

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson (Ian Vogler/PA)

Prime Minister Boris Johnson (Ian Vogler/PA)

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson (Ian Vogler/PA)

– What are the rules in England?

The Prime Minister seems set to end England’s coronavirus measures when their expiry date comes up next week.

Indeed, on Tuesday Health Secretary Sajid Javid said he is “cautiously optimistic” that the Government can “substantially reduce” the restrictions.

Sajid Javid told MPs it was likely “we have already reached the peak of the case numbers of hospitalisations”.

Currently, face coverings are compulsory in most indoor public settings, as well as on public transport, and people have been told to work from home if they can.

Secondary school pupils also must wear masks in classrooms.

Covid passes are still required for entry into nightclubs and other venues, a rule which has been in place since December 15.

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

Those who are unvaccinated close contacts of positive cases must still isolate for 10 days.

New rules have recently come into force for fully vaccinated travellers as well. They are required to take a lateral flow test, rather than a PCR, no later than the end of day two after their arrival.

It is unclear what measures, if any, will remain in place after next week.

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First Minister Mark Drakeford (Ben Birchall/PA)

First Minister Mark Drakeford (Ben Birchall/PA)

PA

First Minister Mark Drakeford (Ben Birchall/PA)

– What are the rules in Wales?

Groups of no more than six people are allowed to meet in pubs, cinemas and restaurants.

Licensed premises can 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.

Nightclubs have been closed since Boxing Day and there is a requirement to work from home wherever possible.

Currently, a maximum of 30 people can attend indoor events and a maximum of 500 people are allowed at outdoor events.

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

The mandatory isolation period for people who test positive with Covid-19 is seven, subject to two negative lateral flow tests on days six and seven.

And similarly to England, confirmatory PCR tests for asymptomatic people who test positive on a lateral flow device are no longer needed.

Rules around travelling are also similar to England, with fully vaccinated travellers needing to take a lateral flow test (LFD) on day two and, if positive, a follow-up PCR test to enable genomic sequencing to be carried out.

A pre-departure test and a day two PCR test when arriving in the UK is no longer needed for fully vaccinated travellers.

– What is changing from Friday?

From Friday of this week, Wales will begin a phased lifting of restrictions.

There will be no limits on the numbers of people able to attend outdoor events and outdoor hospitality will be able to operate without table service.

Then from Friday January 28 attendance limits from indoor events will be lifted, including nightclubs, cinemas, and theatres. However, Covid passes will be needed for larger events. The rule of six and working from home will also be lifted.

Although employers must show that they are taking reasonable measures to limit the spread of coronavirus.

Some baseline measures will remain in place, including wearing face coverings on public transport, and in public indoor settings, as well as self-isolating after travelling from abroad.

– What about Northern Ireland?

Nightclubs in Northern Ireland are closed and dancing has been prohibited in hospitality venues.

But the rule does not apply to weddings.

People must remain seated for table service while table numbers are limited to six and two-metre social distancing rules are in place in all businesses.

The self-isolation period for confirmed Covid-19 cases in Northern Ireland is also seven days, subject to negative lateral flow tests on days six and seven.

Northern Irish ministers have also agreed that sporting events can continue with no limits on capacity, while the work-from-home message is being bolstered and legislation introduced to require social distancing in offices and similar workplaces.

The guidance for mixing in a domestic setting is limited to three households.

Face masks must be worn in shops, indoor-seated venues and visitor attractions, public transport and some other settings. Pupils who are post primary school and teachers must also wear them inside buildings.

Fully vaccinated travellers can also do a lateral flow test rather than a PCR on day two or before day two after their arrival in Northern Ireland.


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