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England and Scotland have seen some huge changes to the COVID restrictions this week (Wednesday 21st of July). 

Wales relaxed some of its restrictions on Saturday 17th of July and Northern Ireland is set to relax some of its restrictions on Monday 26th of July.

What lockdown restrictions have now changed in England?

When it comes to social distancing:

  • There are no NO limits on how many people can meet
  • Guidance regarding staying 1m apart has been removed – except in places such as hospitals and passport control
  • Face masks are no longer required by law, although the UK government has said they “expect and recommend” them in enclosed and crowded places

Some shops and transport operators have stated that they will still require people to wear a mask, so it is a good idea to check before you head off somewhere.

  • Nightclubs can reopen 
  • Pubs and restaurants can serve people at the bar, as there is no need for table service only
  • The limits on guests at funerals and weddings have been removed
  • The limits on people attending concerts, sports events or theatres have also been removed
  • There is no limit on communal worship
  • Limits on visitors to care homes have also been removed
  • Most COVID restrictions in schools, including “bubbles” will be removed
  • Fully vaccinated adults will no longer need to self-isolate if they have come into contact with a positive case

What is the guidance on foreign travel now?

The guidance recommending against travel to amber list countries has now been removed, although those returning from France to England, Scotland and Wales must still quarantine for 10 days. 

People under the age of 18 and fully vaccinated adults no longer have to self-isolate when returning from amber list countries either. 

However, a PCR test is still required on day 2 and day 8, regardless of vaccination status. 

What restrictions are remaining in place in England?

  • Although the limit on how many people can meet has been removed, the guidance states that if you are going to meet others you should continue to do so outside
  • Nightclubs and large events can now reopen, but business owners are being encouraged to ensure the NHS COVID pass is used to ensure people are fully vaccinated – although they do not legally have to
  • People who are working from home can start returning to the workplace, gradually

Source: UK Government

How have lockdown restrictions changed in Scotland?

The whole of Scotland is now in COVID Protection Level 0 (from the 19th of July).

This means that:

  • Up to 8 people from up to 4 households can meet indoors, at home
  • Up to 10 people from up to 5 households can meet indoors at a public place
  • Up to 15 people from up to 15 households can meet outdoors (children under 12 are not counted)
  • Up to 200 people can attend funerals and weddings
  • Customers can now spend longer than two hours in pubs and restaurants, but they have to wear face coverings when not seated and provide the business with their contact details
  • Capacity at events rises to 400 indoors, 1000 standing outdoors and 2000 seated indoors
  • People who are fully vaccinated and any under 18s no longer have to quarantine for 10 days after visiting an amber-list country

Further guidance is expected on whether fully vaccinated people will have to self-isolate after close contact with positive cases or not, as well as what the rules for Schools will be.

What lockdown restrictions remain in Northern Ireland?

Restrictions will be eased on the 26th of July if approved at a review due on the 22nd of July.

Changes planned, include:

  • 10 people from 3 households able to meet inside a private home
  • 15 people from any number of households to be able to meet in a private garden
  • Social distancing to reduce to 1m indoors and be removed for outdoors (although 2m will still be recommended)
  • Live music indoors with no restrictions on sound levels
  • Theatre and other indoor seated venues to reopen

What lockdown restrictions remain in Scotland?

  • Masks are still compulsory in shops and on public transport – and will be “for some time”
  • Hospitality venues have to close at midnight
  • Nightclubs are still closed
  • In indoor public places, social distancing is reduced from 2m to 1m
  • Outdoor gatherings limited to 15 people from up to 15 households, with no social distancing required in this grouping, but 1m distancing required from other groups
  • People to continue to work from home

The Scottish Government plans to lift most of the remaining restrictions on the 9th of August.

How have lockdown restrictions changed in Wales?

Wales moved to Alert Level 1 on the 17th of July.

This means that:

  • Up to 6 people can meet indoors in private homes and holiday accommodation – unless they are all from the same or extended household and then no limit applies
  • No limit on how many people can meet outdoors in public places or at events
  • Organised indoor events can take place for up to 200 standing and 1000 seated
  • Adults returning from amber list countries no longer have to quarantine if they have been fully vaccinated

The Welsh Government hopes to move to Alert Level 0 on August the 7th, which would mean:

  • All premises to reopen with most restrictions being replaced by risk assessments
  • No legal restrictions on the number of people who can meet indoors

Face coverings will still be required on public transport and most indoor public places for the time being. 

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