Covid: How the new rules in Wales, Scotland and England will work


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  • Coronavirus pandemic

A woman wears a face mask in the town centre on October 20, 2020 in Cardiff, Wales.


Wales is under a national circuit-breaker lockdown from 18:00 BST on Friday, which lasts until 9 November.

Scotland has announced that it will move to a new five-tier system of coronavirus restrictions from Monday 2 November, and Northern Ireland is in the middle of four weeks of restrictions.

In England, Greater Manchester, South Yorkshire, Lancashire and Liverpool are all facing the highest tier of coronavirus restrictions (tier three). Warrington will join them next week.

  • Check the restrictions where you live

What are the new rules in Wales?

While Wales is under lockdown:

  • 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.

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

Each area of Scotland will fall into one of five tiers:

  • Level zero – eight people from three households can meet indoors. Most businesses would be open. Ms Sturgeon said this is the “closest to normality we can safely get to without more effective treatments or a vaccine”
  • Level one – six people from two households can meet indoors. This level would offer a “reasonable degree of normality”
  • Level two – limitations on hospitality and no gatherings inside people’s homes. This will be broadly similar to current restrictions outside Scotland’ central belt
  • Level three – much of hospitality closed completely, although restaurants may be able to open. Similar to current central belt restrictions
  • Level four – Closer to full lockdown, but six people from two households would still be able to meet outdoors. This would not be used “unless absolutely necessary”

It’s not yet been announced which tier each area of Scotland will fall into.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the the aim is to be on levels zero and one:

Schools would stay open in all levels and Ms Sturgeon said there are no plans to return to a lockdown “as severe as March”.

Current restrictions include the tougher rules imposed on 3.4 million people in central Scotland.

All licensed premises – except hotel bars for residents – must close indoors and outdoors, though takeaways are permitted. Cafes can stay open until 18:00 daily, but must not serve alcohol.

People living in these areas must avoid public transport, unless absolutely necessary, and must not leave their local areas if possible (people from outside are encouraged not to visit).

Snooker halls, bowling alleys, casinos and bingo halls must also close, and non-professional contact sports and indoor group exercise for adults are suspended.

.A shopper in Buchanan Street, Glasgow

In the rest of Scotland, pubs and restaurants can only open inside between 06:00 and 18:00 daily, and cannot serve alcohol.

They can only serve food and non-alcoholic drinks, but can serve alcohol outdoors until 22:00.

Hotel restaurants can serve food after 18:00, but only for residents and without alcohol.

Throughout the nation, face coverings are compulsory in indoor communal settings, such as staff canteens and corridors in workplaces.

How does England’s three-tier system work?

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

What are the rules in tier three?

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.

.Matthew 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

What are Northern Ireland’s new rules?

Northern Ireland has introduced four weeks of restrictions. Schools have closed for a two-week extended half-term break and will reopen on 2 November.

  • 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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