Coronavirus rules for Christmas vary across the four nations of the UK – find out what the requirements are in your country.

Despite Prime Minister Boris Johnson recently announcing there was no evidence as of yet to justify stricter COVID-19 measures in the UK over Christmas, both Scotland and Wales have recently announced changes to their COVID-19 rules.

Here is a breakdown of how the COVID rules for Christmas compare across the four nations within the United Kingdom:

Christmas and New Year’s Eve

In England, Boris Johnson has announced there will be no further COVID-19 restrictions put in place before Christmas Day, but he has not ruled out making any changes between Christmas and New Year. This has led to New Year’s Eve celebrations in Trafalgar Square, London being scrapped – a celebration that usually sees around 6500 people turn up.

Northern Ireland has confirmed there will be no changes to its COVID-19 rules over the Christmas period.

Nicola Sturgeon in Scotland has said there will be no change to COVID advice over Christmas, but she is still urging people to be cautious. Allowing staff to work from home again has also become a legal duty on employers.

Residents of Wales are being encouraged to follow the Welsh government cabinets five measures for a safe Christmas, which include: getting vaccinated, taking a lateral flow test before visiting people or going shopping, meeting outdoors and wearing a mask.


In England, Boris Johnson has also stated that the self-isolation period for people will be cut from 10 days to 7, for those people who receive a negative lateral flow test on both day 6 and the last day of their quarantine. Sajid Javid, the Health Secretary, did caution people that if they left quarantine after 7 days they should still continue to be cautious.

If you are in Northern Ireland and are identified as being a close contact of someone with COVID then you either have to self-isolate for five days and take three antigen tests (if you have had your booster vaccination) or self-isolate for 10 days (if you have not received your booster vaccination).

Anyone in Scotland who thinks they have COVID-19 symptoms should immediately self-isolate and take a PCR test. If you are identified as being a contact of someone with a positive COVID-19 result then you should self-isolate for ten days – regardless of your vaccination status.

Anyone in Wales who is over 18 and not fully vaccinated must self-isolate if they come into contact with someone who has tested positive for the coronavirus. They should also take a PCR test on day 2 and day 8 even if they are not showing any symptoms. Regulations in Wales have also changed to include a £60 fine for anyone who is found to be travelling to an office when they could work from home.

Face Masks

Face masks are now compulsory again on public transport in England as well as in most indoor settings.

In Northern Ireland face masks must be worn in airports, on public transport and also on private buses. They can only be removed in a bar, cafe or restaurant when you are drinking or eating, or dancing. Secondary school students in Northern Ireland must also wear a mask inside school buildings, as must staff if they are not able to socially distance themselves.

Face masks should be worn in most indoor public places in Scotland including gyms, public transport and shops. They must also be worn in the workplace, and in restaurants when you are not seated. Again, they are also compulsory for all Secondary School children and staff.

Face masks are legally required in most indoor public places and on public transport in Wales. Secondary School pupils are also being asked to wear masks in class.

COVID Passes

As of 15th December in England, so-called COVID passes will be needed for entry into nightclubs and other large venues.

In Northern Ireland, it is now a legal requirement to provide proof of your vaccination status before you can enter venues such as cinemas, hospitality premises and theatres.

Many events and venues in Scotland now require proof of a negative test taken within the last 24 hours or proof of vaccination.

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