What are the new Covid rules for the UK?

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Wales is lifting some of the Covid restrictions introduced after Christmas

It's following Scotland in allowing spectators to return to outdoor events.

What's changing in Wales?

There will be a gradual easing of Covid restrictions, as long as cases do not increase:

  • From Saturday, the number of people allowed at outdoor events will rise from 50 to 500
  • On Friday 21 January limits will be lifted altogether - allowing crowds to return to sporting events, including Six Nations games in Cardiff
  • On 28 January, nightclubs will open, and gatherings in pubs and restaurants will no longer be limited to six people. Covid passes will still be required for large events, cinemas, nightclubs and theatres

Current rules include:

  • social distancing of 2m (6ft) in all premises open to the public and workplaces, where reasonable
  • gatherings limited to six people in premises such as hospitality venues, cinemas and theatres
  • additional measures at licensed premises, including table service and collecting contact details
  • maximum number of 30 allowed at indoor events
  • nightclubs are closed
  • large sporting events to be played behind closed doors

Other measures include:

  • NHS Covid Pass needed for entry to cinemas, theatres and concert halls, and many other events
  • working from home wherever possible
  • compulsory face coverings in schools, on public transport, and in shops and hospitals
  • secondary school pupils are asked to test for Covid three times a week
  • advice to wear masks in pubs and restaurants, when not eating or drinking

What's changed in Scotland?

Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has announced that the attendance limit on outdoor events will lifted from Monday 17 January.

Since Christmas, only 500 people have been allowed to attend such events, meaning that spectators have been stopped from attending most football and rugby fixtures.

The Covid certification scheme will remain in place, meaning people must provide proof of their vaccination status or a recent negative test.

From Monday 17 January, anyone who had their second dose more than four months ago must also have received a booster to be considered fully vaccinated.

Organisers of large scale events must also check the Covid status of at least 50% of attendees, or 1,000 people, which ever is the larger number.

What other rules remain in place in Scotland?

Limits on the size of indoor events - 100 standing or 200 seated - stay in place for now.

Ms Sturgeon said she hopes to remove these, along with the need for 1m (3ft) social distancing indoors and table service in hospitality venues, from 24 January. This will be subject to confirmation on Tuesday 18 January.

In the meantime, these and other current restrictions remain in place, including:

  • people are asked not to have indoor gatherings with more than three households - and to test before meeting
  • shops and businesses to take measures to limit the spread of Covid
  • care home visits limited to two households (who must test first)
  • employers have a legal duty to let staff work from home
  • face coverings are compulsory on public transport and most indoor spaces

Life events like weddings are not affected.

How else have the Covid rules changed?

Across the UK, people who test positive for Covid can now end self-isolation after seven days instead of the previous 10, subject to two negative lateral flow test (LFT) results on days six and seven.

While case rates remain high, people without Covid symptoms who have a positive LFT don't need to take a PCR test to confirm their status.

In addition, children and fully vaccinated adults no longer need to take a pre-departure test before travelling to the UK and can now take an LFT instead of a PCR on arrival.

What are the current rules in England?

"Plan B" measures include:

What are the Covid rules in Northern Ireland?

New rules introduced after Christmas include:

  • nightclubs are closed
  • dancing in all hospitality venues not allowed
  • all indoor standing events not allowed
  • hospitality venues including pubs, cafes and restaurants can offer table service only
  • in hospitality venues a maximum of six people (or 10 from a single household) allowed at a table (excluding children aged 12 and under)
  • businesses must take measures to achieve 2m social distancing and limit the spread of Covid in office spaces
  • businesses to promote use of face coverings

These measures do not apply to weddings or civil partnership celebrations.

Other measures include:

  • face coverings compulsory in shops, indoor-seated venues and visitor attractions, public transport and some other settings
  • post-primary pupils must wear a face covering inside school buildings, as well as on school transport. Staff are encouraged to wear masks in school areas where they can't socially distance
  • Covid passport scheme for venues including bars and cinemas