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Covid: What's the roadmap for lifting lockdown?

By June 21st, 2021COVID

In deckchairs in the park

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Most existing Covid restrictions in the UK are staying in place for the moment, because of concerns over the Delta variant.

The government had hoped to “remove all legal limits on social contact” in England from 21 June. That’s been put back until 19 July. Meanwhile Wales is pausing its programme of lockdown-easing for four weeks.

In Northern Ireland, a planned easing of restrictions has been pushed back to at least 5 July, and current rules in Scotland are expected to be extended until until mid-July.

What’s been announced in England?

The delay to rule-relaxation is because of concerns over the Delta variant of Covid, with cases are growing by about 64% per week.

The government says more time is needed to vaccinate the adult population before remaining rules can be lifted, the PM said.

A few restrictions are being lifted on 21 June:

  • The number of guests at a wedding will no longer be limited to 30, although venues and hosts will have to do a risk assessment to ensure social distancing can take place (similar rules apply to wakes)
  • Care home residents will not necessarily have to self-isolate after leaving their care homes, and they will be able to nominate an “essential care-giver” who can visit, even if the resident is self-isolating
  • Children can go on overnight trips in groups of 30 with, for example, the Scouts or Guides, or as part of summer residential schools
  • Also, large events pilots will continue, including more Euro 2020 games and a number of other sports, arts and music events

What are England’s remaining Covid restrictions?

A number of restrictions which were expected to be lifted, will remain in place for the moment:

  • Limits on the number of people who can mix indoors and outdoors
  • Pubs, clubs, theatres and cinemas still have to operate within capacity limits
  • Limited numbers of people allowed to attend sports events
  • Nightclubs remain closed

Ministers still have to consider the findings of reviews on face coverings and social distancing before deciding when all limits could be lifted.

Lockdown rules after 21 June in England

What about areas with high numbers of Indian/Delta variant cases?

There are now 14 areas of England where you are advised to:

  • meet friends and family outside
  • keep 2m (6ft) apart from people you don’t live or bubble with
  • minimise travel in and out of affected areas

These are Bedford, Birmingham, Blackburn with Darwen, Blackpool, Cheshire East, Cheshire West and Chester, Greater Manchester, Kirklees, Lancashire (county council area), Leicester, Liverpool City Region (Halton, Knowsley, Liverpool, Sefton, St Helens, Wirral), London Borough of Hounslow, North Tyneside and Warrington.

What’s been announced in Wales?

The lifting of coronavirus restrictions is being paused for four weeks and will be reviewed again on 15 July.

However from 21 June there will be some “small technical amendments” made to current rules – including:

  • No limit on the number of people who can attend a wedding or civil partnership reception or wake – this will be determined by the size of the venue and a risk assessment
  • Small grassroots music and comedy venues will be able to operate on the same basis as hospitality venues, such as pubs and cafes
  • Primary school children in the same school contact group or bubble will be able to stay overnight in a residential outdoor education centre

What am I allowed to do across the UK at the moment?

Exact rules may vary between nations and – in Scotland – between areas:

Who can I meet at the moment?

Rules vary for each UK nation:

  • In England, groups of up to 30 can meet outdoors and six people or two households can meet indoors (and stay overnight)
  • In Wales, three households can form an extended household and mix in private homes; up to 30 people can meet outdoors in a public place or private garden
  • In Northern Ireland, up to six people from two households can meet in private homes (under-13s not counted towards total) and overnight stays are allowed; up to 15 people (including children) from no more than three households can meet outdoors, including in private gardens

Four women jumping into a Scottish loch, 2 June

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Rules are more complicated in Scotland.

Fourteen areas are at Covid protection level twoGlasgow, Edinburgh, Midlothian, Dundee, East Dunbartonshire, Renfrewshire, East Renfrewshire, North Ayrshire, South Ayrshire, East Ayrshire, North Lanarkshire, South Lanarkshire, Clackmannanshire and Stirling.

In these areas:

  • Groups of six from a maximum of three households can meet in private and public indoor spaces (and stay overnight)
  • Eight people from eight households can meet outdoors

Some districts have moved to Covid protection level one (down from level two) – Highland, Argyll and Bute, Aberdeen City, Aberdeenshire, Moray, Angus, Perth and Kinross, Falkirk, Fife, Inverclyde, East Lothian, West Lothian, West Dunbartonshire, Dumfries and Galloway and the Borders.

The rules for meeting are:

  • Six people from a maximum of three households can meet in a private home (and stay overnight)
  • Up to eight people from three households can meet in an indoor public place like a cafe, pub or restaurant (indoors until 23:00, outdoors subject to local licensing rules)
  • 12 people from 12 households can meet outdoors

Shetland, Orkney, the Western Isles and a number of remote islands are now at level zero (down from level one).

The rules for these areas include:

  • Up to eight people from four households can meet inside in a private home (and stay overnight)
  • Up to 10 people from four households can meet in an indoor public place like a cafe, pub or restaurant
  • Up to 15 people from 15 households can meet outdoors

In all levels, children under the age of 12 are not included in the total number of people – but they are counted in the limit on the number of different households.

Travellers to and from Scottish islands are encouraged to take two rapid lateral flow tests before departure.

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