Covid: The new lockdown rules for England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland

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A new four-week lockdown across England starts at 00:01 GMT on Thursday, bringing with it new rules for everything from meeting friends to going to the shops.

Scotland has moved to a five-tier system of coronavirus restrictions, while Wales and Northern Ireland are in the middle of temporary lockdowns.

  • Check the restrictions where you live

What are the plans for a new lockdown in England?

MPs voted in support of the proposals on Wednesday. The lockdown will remain in place until Wednesday 2 December.

Staying at home and seeing people

  • You should stay at home except for education, work (if it can’t be done from home), exercise and recreation, medical reasons, shopping for food and other essentials, or to care for others
  • Households must not mix with others indoors, or in private gardens
  • You can meet one person from outside your household in an outdoors public space. Children under five don’t count
  • Support bubbles for people who live alone and single parent households can continue
  • Support groups of 15 or fewer people are allowed, including those for new parents or people recovering from addictions
  • Children can move between homes if parents are separated
  • Informal childcare support bubbles for children aged 13 or under can continue
  • It is possible to visit friends and family in care homes as long as Covid-secure measures are in place, such as the use of floor-to-ceiling screens, visiting pods, and arranging outdoor or window visits
  • Schools, nurseries, colleges and universities will remain open
  • Childminders and nannies can continue to provide childcare, including in people’s homes
  • Students who live at university must not return to their permanent home until the end of term
  • Workplaces can stay open if people cannot work from home – including construction and manufacturing
  • Those who are clinically vulnerable are advised not to go to work if they can’t work from home
  • You can take outdoor exercise and recreation on your own, or with one other person, but grassroots team sports are not allowed
  • As long as you follow the rules above, you can exercise outside as much as you want
  • Outdoor playgrounds can remain open
  • All leisure and sports centres and gyms, swimming pools, tennis and basketball courts, golf courses, fitness and dance studios, climbing walls, archery, driving, and shooting ranges must close
  • Elite sport can carry on behind closed doors

What about shops, pubs and other venues?

  • All pubs and restaurants must close (takeaways and deliveries can continue)
  • All non-essential shops must close (click-and-collect services and deliveries can continue)
  • All personal care facilities must close, including hair, beauty, tanning and nail salons, tattoo and massage parlours, and those offering body and skin piercing. Staff cannot offer these services in people’s homes
  • Supermarkets, food shops, off-licences, petrol stations and pharmacies can remain open
  • Bike shops, hardware stores, dry cleaners, banks, post offices, garden centres and pet shops can also remain open
  • Motorway services stations can remain open
  • Waste and recycling centres can remain open
  • Medical services can continue, including dentist and optician appointments
  • Libraries can remain open for click-and-collect services, and to allow IT access

What about worship, weddings and funerals?

  • Weddings and civil partnership ceremonies will not be allowed, apart from in exceptional circumstances
  • Funerals can be attended by a maximum of 30 people. Linked ceremonial events such as stone settings and ash scatterings can also continue with up to 15 people
  • Apart from funerals, places of worship will only be open to allow individual prayer or services to be broadcast to the congregation
  • You can still visit potential properties, purchase a new property and move into a new property during this time
  • You can stay in a hotel overnight if necessary
  • Estate and letting agents and removals firms can continue to work
  • People outside your household or support bubble should not help with moving house unless it is absolutely essential, and you should wear a mask and maintain social distancing wherever possible

What are the rules in tier three?

After 2 December, different regions will return to the tiers system, depending upon the rates of infection.

Until Thursday, every area of England is in one of three categories – medium (tier one), high (tier two) or very high (tier three), depending on the local infection rate.

Areas with the most rapidly rising transmission rates are placed in tier three.

  • You cannot meet anybody anywhere indoors who is not part of your household or support bubble, nor can you meet them in a private garden or outdoor venue such as a pub garden
  • You can meet up in groups of up to six people in parks, beaches, countryside or forests
  • Pubs and bars must close unless they are serving substantial meals. Alcohol can only be served as part of a meal
  • You are advised not to travel into or out of tier three areas, other than for work, education, youth services or caring responsibilities
  • Casinos, bingo halls and betting shops, adult gaming centres and soft play areas must shut

Extra measures can be introduced for individual areas.

image copyrightMatthew Horwood

What are the rules for tier two?

  • You cannot meet people socially indoors if you do not live with them – whether in private homes, pubs or restaurants
  • People in support bubbles can go on meeting as before, and informal childcare may also be provided
  • You can still meet friends and family outdoors, but only in a group of up to six people.

What are the rules for tier one?

Areas in tier one are subject to the basic national rules previously in force.

  • You may not meet in a group of more than six people, indoors or outdoors, unless you’re in a larger household or a support bubble.
  • Pubs, bars and restaurants must close by 22:00 BST

How will Scotland’s new five-tier system work?

  • Level zero – Almost like normal life. However, no area has been placed in this level.
  • Level one – In time, six people from two households can meet indoors. at this level, but that will not be permitted right now. Up to six people from two households can meet outdoors or at a pub or restaurant. Hospitality has a 22:30 GMT curfew.
  • Level two – No gatherings inside people’s homes, but up to six people from two households can meet outdoors or at a pub or restaurant. Most hospitality venues can open. Alcohol can be served indoors with a meal until 20:00 and outdoors until 22:30.
  • Level three – No indoor gatherings at home. Pubs and restaurants can open until 18:00 but alcohol cannot be served. Leisure and entertainment venues are closed. Non-essential travel in or out of the area advised against.
  • Level four – Closer to full lockdown. No area has been placed in this level.

More than half of Scotland’s 32 local authorities are under level three restrictions, including Edinburgh and Glasgow. All the rest are starting off on levels one or two.

Schools will stay open in all levels. The decision is based on factors including number of cases per 100,000 people, the ratio of positive test results, projections of new cases and the capacity of local hospitals and intensive care units.

What are the current rules in Wales?

Wales is under lockdown until 9 November, during which:

  • People should stay at home in most circumstances
  • Secondary school pupils above Year 8 have online learning only
  • People must not visit other households or meet people they do not live with
  • Pubs, restaurants and non-essential shops are closed
  • Leisure businesses, community centres, libraries and recycling centres are also shut
  • Places of worship are closed for normal services, except for funerals and weddings
  • Adults living alone or single parents can join with one other household for support from anywhere in Wales

In addition, supermarkets and food shops remain open, but are not allowed to sell “non-essential goods”.

  • Two households can form a bubble and will be able to meet in their own homes
  • Up to 15 people can meet for organised activities indoors, rising to 30 outdoors
  • All businesses that were required to close during the lockdown can reopen
  • There will be no travel restrictions within Wales, but people can only leave the country for essential purposes like work during the English lockdown

What are Northern Ireland’s current rules?

Northern Ireland is in the middle of four weeks of restrictions. Schools closed for a two-week extended half-term break but have now reopened.

  • Pubs, bars and restaurants must close, except for takeaways and deliveries, which must stop by 23:00 BST
  • Support bubbles will be limited to a maximum of 10 people from two households
  • You are not allowed to stay overnight in someone else’s home, unless they are part of your bubble
  • Close-contact services like hairdressers and beauticians must close, except for essential services
  • No indoor or contact sport allowed unless at elite level; gyms stay open for individual exercise only
  • No mass events of more than 15 people, apart from certain sporting events
  • Wedding ceremonies limited to 25 people, with no receptions
  • Funerals limited to 25 people, with no wakes allowed before or afterwards

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