How do lockdown restrictions differ in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland?

  • Video report by ITV News Wales and West of England Correspondent Rupert Evelyn

Boris Johnson has announced some changes to coronavirus lockdown regulations in England with more freedom to leave the house and encouraging those who cannot work from home to return to the workplace.

The adjustments come with a warning that the government “will not hesitate to put on the brakes” if a second wave of Covid-19 cases and deaths ensues.

The prime minister warned the changes for England depend "on all of us - the entire country - to follow the advice, to observe the social distancing and to keep that R down.”

The R number is the rate at which coronavirus is passed on, for example; if the R number is two, then an infected person passes on the respiratory disease to two others.

Currently the R number is below one.

Mr Johnson laid out his plan for the next phase of the country’s efforts against Covid-19 as the leaders of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland offered lockdown updates for the devolved nations.

Since health is devolved, Mr Johnson only speaks for England, despite being prime minister.

So how do the regulations now differ across the UK? Here’s what you need to know.


Enjoying the outdoors

From Wednesday, people can now do as much exercise as they want outdoors and can even sit in the park in the sun as long as they are at a distance from others or play sport with members of their household.

Boris Johnson said: “From this Wednesday we want to encourage people to take more and even unlimited amounts of outdoor exercise.”

He added: “You can sit in the sun in your local park, you can drive to other destinations, you can even play sports but only with members of your own household.”

People are now encouraged to exercise more. Credit: PA

Return to work

Those who can't work form home are being actively encouraged to return as of Monday.

The prime minister will set out how workplaces can become 'Covid Secure' by following new guidance for employers.

"So work from home if you can, but you should go to work if you can't work from home," he said.

But he also said people should still avoid public transport if at all possible, "because we must and will maintain social distancing, and capacity will therefore be limited".

A New Slogan

"Stay Alert" replaces "Stay Home". The new slogan is "stay alert, control the virus, save lives”.

A Covid Alert System

A new coronavirus tier alert system will be introduced which could allow authorities to implement different localised responses to outbreaks of the disease.

Like the terror alert system this will grade the threat from one to five (with five being the most dangerous) depending on the rate of reproduction, the number of infections and the amount of social interaction.

“Over the period of the lockdown we have been in Level Four,” the prime minister said.

“And it is thanks to your sacrifice we are now in a position to begin to move in steps to Level Three.”

That Covid Alert Level will be determined primarily by R, he added, and the number of coronavirus cases.

Garden centres are set to reopen. Credit: PA

Garden Centres

These will be allowed to reopen from Wednesday.

Quarantine for Travellers

Anyone arriving in the UK is expected to be asked to self-isolate for 14 days, unless they are a key worker or coming from Ireland (which already has this system).


The above changes are part of step one but, in step two, we could see a "phased reopening of shops and to get primary pupils back into schools", by June 1 at the earliest.

The return of pupils would be in stages, beginning with reception, Year 1 and Year 6.

"Our ambition is that secondary pupils facing exams next year will get at least some time with their teachers before the holidays," the prime minister said.

"And we will shortly be setting out detailed guidance on how to make it work in schools and shops and on transport."


In step three - at the earliest by July - it is hoped the country will be in a position to reopen "at least some of the hospitality industry" and other public places, if they are safe and enforce social distancing.

Schools could slowly reopen in a few weeks' time. Credit: PA


As part of the review, the Welsh Government decided to continue lockdown regulations until the next review period in three weeks’ time.

This means people are being asked to continue working from home if they are able to do so.

First Minister Mark Drakeford announced only these minor adjustments on Friday:

  • Allowing people to exercise more than once a day, but people should stay local. This means any exercise should start and end at home and not involve going a significant distance from home.

  • Enabling local authorities to begin the process of planning how to safely reopen libraries and municipal recycling centres.

  • Allowing garden centres to open provided they comply with the physical distancing duty.

Along with Scotland and Northern Ireland, Wales will not adopt the "Stay alert" slogan, but continue with: "Stay home, protect the NHS, save lives".


Nicola Sturgeon announced only one change will be made to Scotland's restrictions. Credit: PA

Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced on Sunday that people can now exercise more than once a day north of the border.

The change will come into effect on Monday – but this will be the only adjustment.

Ms Sturgeon said the advice from her government remains to "stay at home" other than for buying food, getting medicine or exercising.

She has asked Westminster not to deploy their new slogan in Scotland.

Explaining why measures will not be eased, on Friday, Ms Sturgeon said: “We are not yet confident that the all-important R number is far enough below one.

“In fact, we think the R number here in Scotland may still be a bit higher here than in other parts of the UK.

“That’s why sticking with the lockdown measures at this stage is so important.

"It’s key to driving down infection rates and driving down the R number. And that – in turn – is a prerequisite for any easing of the restrictions.

“So for now, the message remains the same.

"You must stay at home, please stay at home.”

Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland extended the current restrictions for another three weeks on Thursday.

But there may be some "nuanced" changes to the measures in the days ahead, First Minister Arlene Foster said, including on rules around open-air exercise.

She added it was important to "move together as a bloc" with the rest of the UK to send a clear and simple message to the population.

The message from Norther Ireland remains:

  • Stay at home - only go outside for food, health reasons or work (but only if you cannot work from home)

  • If you go out, stay two metres (6ft 6in) away from other people at all times

  • Wash your hands as soon as you get home


Islanders on Guernsey will be able to spend more time outdoors. Credit: ITV Channel

The State of Guernsey announced on Thursday that the time Islanders can spend outside of their house for exercise or recreational activities is being extended from two to four hours.

The island is currently in Phase 2 of its ‘Exit from Lockdown’ plan, which was published last week.

This phase is described as a full lockdown, with some gardening, building and other trades able to work under strict controls.

Some limited recreational activity is allowed with social distancing measures.


An announcement on Jersey’s lockdown restrictions is expected on Monday, but Chief Minister John Le Fondre suggested they could be relaxed if islanders are responsible.

He said on Thursday that slowly unlocking the island is the “right thing to do”.

On Saturday, May 2, the island made some minor adjustments to restrictions:

  • You can spend up to 4 hours outside the home

  • You can spend time outside your home doing necessary shopping, for medical needs or providing care, and any form of safe outdoors activity (not just exercise) as long as you maintain physical distancing.

  • You are encouraged to spend time outdoors. Avoid risky activities that may result in accidents and create pressure on health services

  • You can spend your time outside with people you live with, and with one people you don't live with as well, as long as you maintain physical distance with those you don't live with. For the purposes of this scenario, this can be one household plus a maximum of 2 other people.