Covid: What's the 'Winter Plan' and what are the rules across the UK?

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The government has set out plans to tackle Covid in England this winter.

Social distancing rules across the UK have been eased, with Northern Ireland the latest to make changes.

What is England's Plan A?

Under the government's Covid-19 Response: Autumn and Winter Plan, Covid booster jabs are being offered to about 30 million people, including the over-50s, younger adults with health conditions and frontline health and social care workers.

Healthy 12 to 15-year-olds are being offered a single dose and unvaccinated people are being encouraged to get jabbed.

Plan A also includes:

  • the continuation of NHS Test and Trace and free PCR tests
  • encouraging free flu vaccine take-up
  • reminding people to let in fresh air when meeting indoors and to wear face coverings in crowded places

What is England's Plan B?

If Plan A isn't sufficient to prevent "unsustainable pressure" on the NHS, the government can use Plan B, including:

Plan B could be brought in at short notice, following "concerning" data.

Government scientific advisers say it's important to monitor:

  • the number of hospitalisations
  • rapid rates of change in figures
  • the overall state of the NHS

What are the current rules in England?

People who've been working from home should return to the workplace gradually.

What are the restrictions in Northern Ireland?

  • Up to 15 people from four households can mix indoors in domestic settings
  • No need for advance tickets or allocated seating at live performances
  • From 1800 BST on 30 September, social distancing limits will be lifted in shops, indoor seated venues and indoor visitor attractions, although face coverings will remain compulsory. Social distancing in hospitality settings will remain
  • Shops and indoor attractions asked to continue using hand sanitising, good ventilation, and one way systems
  • Indoor seated venues such as theatres, concert halls and cinemas advised to to ask for proof of double vaccination or a negative lateral flow test, but this is not legally enforceable
  • Face coverings mandatory on public transport and some other settings, unless you are exempt
  • Anyone with Covid symptoms must self-isolate for 10 days (or until a negative PCR result)
  • Work from home where possible
  • Dancing not permitted at indoor venues where music is played (apart from weddings and civil ceremonies)
  • Nightclubs remain closed

Ministers will consider easing social distancing in the hospitality sector when they discusses winter plans.

What is the situation in Scotland?

  • Physical distancing rules remain in healthcare settings such as hospitals, GP surgeries and dentists, where the 2m (6ft) rule applies
  • Face coverings still compulsory on public transport and inside places like shops
  • Anyone with Covid symptoms must self-isolate for 10 days (or until a negative PCR result)
  • Indoor hospitality venues must collect customer contact details
  • Keep working from home where possible
  • Large event organisers (5,000 outdoors, 2,000 indoors) must apply for permission
  • Secondary pupils have to wear face coverings indoors until the October holidays
  • No large in-person lectures at colleges and universities
  • The government reserves the right to re-impose local travel restrictions

From 1 October, all over-18s will be required to prove their vaccine status at nightclubs and other venues.

image source, Getty Images

What restrictions are still in place in Wales?

  • Work from home wherever possible
  • Businesses must carry out risk assessments to decide on social distancing measures
  • Face coverings remain compulsory on public transport, and in shops and hospitals - but not bars/restaurants
  • Anyone with Covid symptoms must self-isolate for 10 days (or until a negative PCR result)
  • College and secondary school staff and students should keep testing regularly
  • Face masks no longer advised in schools, but still recommended in crowded spaces like school buses
  • From 11 October, people will need to use the NHS Covid Pass to show they have been vaccinated or have had a negative lateral flow test to go to nightclubs, as well as many indoor and outdoor events
  • VACCINE: How many people in the UK have been jabbed so far?
  • SCHOOLS: How are pupils being kept Covid-safe?
  • TESTING: How do I get a test?