Covid: What are the social distancing rules across the UK?

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Social distancing rules, which were a key part of the fight against Covid-19 are coming to an end throughout the UK.

However, some rules remain in place wherever you are.

What are the social distancing rules?


Almost all legal restrictions have been lifted on the number of people you can meet - at home and in a public place - whether indoors or outdoors.

Capacity limits at private or public events no longer apply.

The government says people should still "consider the risks of close contact", particularly if someone is clinically extremely vulnerable, or not fully vaccinated.

Social distancing is still required in certain circumstances:

  • When travellers enter the country, before border control
  • Hospitals and care homes may use it to reduce the chance of infections

There is no legal requirement to wear a face covering in enclosed public spaces, but the government says it "expects and recommends" people wear them in crowded areas such as public transport.


Most rules on social distancing and limits to the size of gatherings have now been lifted.

However, distancing is still required in healthcare settings including doctors' surgeries and hospitals.

The law does not require people keep a certain distance from each other in most public places.

But advice remains to keep a safe distance from those in other households - especially indoors - and to avoid crowded places.

Face coverings are still compulsory in most public indoor settings, such as shops and public transport - as well as pubs and restaurants when not seated.

And in schools - for at least the first six weeks of term - staff will still be required to keep at least 1m from each other and from children.

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Formal social distancing rules came to an end in Wales on 7 August.

There is no limit to the number of people who can meet indoors or outdoors.

But businesses have to carry out their own risk assessments for venues and premises.

Face coverings remain compulsory in most indoor public places, and on public transport - but not in pubs and restaurants.

They will no longer be recommended for use in classrooms from September, after the end of the summer holidays.

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Northern Ireland

There's no requirement to socially distance outside.

A maximum of 15 people from four households can meet indoors in domestic settings.

But social distancing of at least 1m (3ft) must be followed in indoor premises such as restaurants, shops and indoor attractions.

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 still be compulsory. Social distancing in hospitality settings will remain.

Shops and indoor attractions will be asked to continue using hand sanitising, good ventilation, and one way systems, where possible.

Indoor seated venues such as theatres, concert halls and cinemas will be advised to to ask for proof of double vaccination or a negative lateral flow test, but this is not legally enforceable.

Face coverings remain mandatory on public transport and some other settings, unless you are exempt.

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.

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