Covid: What are the social distancing rules?

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Scotland and Wales are relaxing some of the rules around gatherings and mixing with others which were introduced to tackle the spread of Omicron.

However, some restrictions remain.

What are the rules in Scotland?

Currently, these are limited to 200 seated people or 100 standing.

There will be no upper number on how many people can mix in private dwellings. At the moment, a maximum of three households can meet.

However, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said it was "sensible" to remain cautious for the time being. People are still being asked to work from home and to take lateral flow tests before spending time with others.

Restrictions on the number of people who can attend outdoor events have already been lifted.

What are the rules in Wales?

The number of people currently allowed at outdoor events is 500, and from 21 January all restrictions will be lifted.

On 28 January, nightclubs will reopen, and the so-called "rule of six" - where gatherings in pubs and restaurants are limited to six people - will be scrapped.

Some restrictions will remain in place:

  • social distancing of 2m (6ft) in all premises open to the public and workplaces, where reasonable
  • licensed premises must take additional measures to protect customers and staff, including table service and collecting contact details
  • face coverings are required in hospitality settings, apart from when seated
  • vaccine passports continue to be required for venues including restaurants, bars and cinemas.

What are the rules in Northern Ireland?

  • a maximum of 30 people from an unlimited number of households can meet indoors in domestic settings
  • shops must take "reasonable measures to manage risk" and shoppers are asked to maintain physical distance with each other where possible.
  • face coverings are compulsory in shops, indoor seated venues and visitor attractions, public transport and some other settings
  • vaccine passports continue to be required for venues including restaurants, bars and cinemas

There are also restrictions on events that were introduced after Christmas:

  • nightclubs have closed
  • dancing in all hospitality venues is not allowed
  • all indoor standing events are not allowed
  • in hospitality venues a maximum of six people, or 10 people from a single household, are allowed at a table (excluding aged 12 and under)
  • hospitality venues including pubs, cafes and restaurants can provide table service only

There's no new requirement to socially distance outside and sporting events will continue.

What are the rules in England?

The current restrictions in England don't include any limits on socialising - so friends and family are legally allowed to see each other in private houses, or to meet in public places like pubs and nightclubs.

Why is social distancing important?

Coronavirus spreads mainly when an infected person coughs, sneezes or speaks - sending small droplets, packed with the virus, into the air.

The further apart people are, the lower the risk of the infection spreading.