As lockdown restrictions are eased across the UK, what will you be able to do and where?

Small social gatherings will be permitted Credit: Danny Lawson/PA

Lockdown measures across the UK continue to be relaxed, although the four nations are moving at a slightly different pace.

England's 'Super Saturday' on 4 July was the biggest step a home nation has taken yet as pubs, restaurants and hairdressers were among the businesses given the green light to reopen.

Northern Ireland's pubs opened a day ahead of England's, while hairdressers can open there from 6 July.

Restrictions are tighter in Scotland and Wales; Scotland is in phase 2 of its easing of lockdown roadmap, with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon expected to announce the next steps on 9 July.

So, what are the different lockdown restrictions across the UK and where do we go from here?

Meeting up with others

  • England

As of Saturday, people in England are allowed to meet one other household indoors - and even stay over. But social distancing rules still apply.

You can only meet one household (or support bubble) at a time, but you can meet up with more than one household in a day, so, in theory you could invite your parents around for coffee in the morning and meet friends who live together in the afternoon. 

As of 18 June, people in England have been able to meet outdoors in groups of up to six people from different households, following social distancing guidelines.

This does change slightly - you can now meet up in groups bigger than six as long as you are from just two households, but any more than one household, and you must stick to no more than six.

Again, staying two metres apart is the aim, but if you can't, from Saturday one metre plus is deemed good enough if you employ mitigation measures - that is taking extra steps to keep safe such as wearing a mask, regularly washing hands and sitting side by side with people, rather than face to face.

Last month "support bubbles" were introduced, allowing those who live alone, or single parents with children aged under-18 to join together with another household.

Once people are in a support bubble, they do not have to observe the social distancing rule of two metres and can stay overnight at each other's houses, however, if one person in the group displays coronavirus symptoms, all members must self-isolate for 14 days, regardless of whether they live together or not.

From Monday groups of up to six people from outside one household can meet in private gardens for chats and barbecues in England. Credit: PA
  • Scotland

Phase 2 of Scotland's lockdown easing road map allowed people from up to three households to meet outdoors in groups of up to eight people, continuing to socially distance.

Scots who live on their own or only with young children are able to form an “extended household group” with one other household, meaning they can meet indoors without the need for physical distancing, as well as stay overnight from Friday 18 June.

The five-mile travel rule was lifted on 3 July which means Scots can travel outside of their locality.

Physical distancing will no longer apply to most children aged 11 and under when they are outdoors from 3 July, although children are still advised to stay two metres away from people when indoors.

Ms Sturgeon said she hoped to announce more changes next week on how “households can meet, interact and play”.


The 'stay local' guidance was also lifted in Wales from 6 July, allowing people to travel more than five miles, including over the border into England.

People are being allowed to form 'extended households' as of Monday, where two households can form a unit that allows them to have contact and stay over. But if one member of an extended household develops symptoms, the entire extended household should self-isolate, not just those living together.

Outside of these 'extended households,' you can meet up with one other household outdoors as long as you maintain social distancing rules.

  • Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland was the first part of the UK to permit indoor gatherings, with up to six people able to get together under one roof from 23 June.

Up to 30 people are allowed to get together outdoors,

Outdoor sports which allow social distancing can take place. Credit: PA


  • England

Groups of up to six people from different households can exercise together in England, so long as they can maintain social distancing.

This means non-contact team sports can resume, although participants must keep two metres apart.

  • Scotland

In Scotland golf, tennis, bowls, fishing and other non-contact outdoor activities have been given the green light to resume.

However, the Scottish government urge people not to travel more than five miles for recreation.

  • Wales

People can walk, run or cycle as often as you want with people from another household. But you must not be in a large group and stay at least two metres apart.

Outdoor sports venues and courts, such as tennis, bowls and golf, have reopened, but people must maintain social distancing, and no contact or team sports, such as football and rugby, are permitted below professional level.

Northern Ireland

Outdoor activities and sports such as golf, water sports and tennis, are allowed in Northern Ireland.

Schools will be reopened to more children from Monday in England. Credit: PA


  • England and Wales

People who have been shielding - those who are clinically very vulnerable to coronavirus - in England and Wales during the coronavirus crisis can exercise and meet people from another household outdoors, so long as they follow social distancing guidelines.

  • Scotland and Northern Ireland

Shielders will be able to meet up to five other people outside from 6 July in Northern Ireland, while people shielding alone will be able to form a support bubble with one other household

In Scotland people who are shielding will be able to go outside for exercise from Friday 19 June, as well as be able to meet people from one other household, as was the case for the general public in phase one, so long as social distancing measures are adhered to.

From 6 July, shielders in Northern Ireland will be able to meet up to five other people outside. The will also be able to form a support bubble with one other household.

Shielding advice is set to be paused from 31 July, and those who were told to self-isolate will no longer need to shield.

Some pupils have returned to England's primary schools. Credit: PA


  • England

Some children in Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 returned to primary schools in England on June 1.

Students in Year 10 and Year 12 returned for some face-to-face contact from June 15.

Nurseries and childminders have also reopened and as 20 July, limits on group sizes will be lifted in nurseries, childminders and early years providers in England.

The government has U-turned on its plan to get all primary school pupils back before the summer holidays, acknowledging this would not be possible.

All children are expected back in September - and parents face a fine if their child does not attend.


In Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon has stood firm on schools, saying they are not to be reopened until August 11 at the earliest.

  • Wales

The Welsh government is hoping to open schools from June 29.

Under the new guidelines, year groups will be split into cohorts with staggered starts and breaks. It is expected that at most, only a third of pupils will be present at any one time.

  • Northern Ireland

The Northern Ireland executive were hoping to get pupils back in to school from 17 August, but this target has been pushed back to 24 August.

Primary Seven, Year 12 and Year 14 pupils will be the first to return to the classroom.

Socially distancing is expected to be reduced to one metre to allow more pupils to return.

More shops opened in June. Credit: Victoria Jones/PA


  • England

All non-essential shops in England can now reopen, so long as they follow 'Covid-secure' guidelines.

In a bid to prevent the spread of coronavirus, many shops will bring in more spacious floor plans, only allow in a limited number of customers at once, have hand sanitiser stations and quarantined handled or returned items.

  • Northern Ireland

Non-essential shops in Northern Ireland opened on June 12 and like in England, shops must ensure social distancing and hygiene measures.

  • Scotland

Non-essential retail businesses were allowed to open again on June 29.

Nicola Sturgeon made face masks mandatory in all shops from 10 July.

She also announced the two-metre social distancing rule can be reduced in the hospitality and retail sectors and on public transport at that time, although the general rule in law will be that businesses must take reasonable measures to ensure two-metre distancing is maintained.


Wales opened non-essential shops in June.

In England, pubs will have to wait until July before they can reopen. Credit: PA

Other businesses and leisure

  • England

Pubs, hairdressers, restaurants and cinemas are among hospitality businesses that were allowed opened to great fanfare on 4 July.

Indoor gyms, yoga studios, swimming pools and fitness centres will remain shut as do beauty salons, spas and theatres.

Hotels, BnBs and holiday homes and caravans could also begin accepting bookings from the weekend. Government guidance suggests staff should wear face coverings and take other precautions such as providing hand sanitiser and putting one-way systems in place to keep customers safe.

Dentists in England reopened from June 8 for urgent patients.

Zoos and safari parks have reopened in England, but indoor exhibitions, such as reptile houses, will still be closed, cafes will be takeaway only, and social distancing and hygiene measures will greet the reduced number of visitors allowed.

  • Northern Ireland

Pubs in NI were the first to serve pints in the UK as they opened on Thursday 3 July. Spas and massage and tattoo parlours and beauty salons can also resume trading from 6 July

Hotels in Northern Ireland also reopened from 3 July, brought forward from 20 July.

  • Wales and Scotland

People in Wales can book a self-contained accommodation from 11 July - this means places with no shared facilities.

This means hotels, B&Bs and hostels that can provide en-suite rooms and provide room service meals can open from this date, and caravans and motor homes are also allowed to open.

On Monday 6 Julypub beer gardens and outdoor dining areas in restaurants will be able to open under the second phase of Scotland's route map.

Self-contained holiday accommodation - such as cottages and caravans with no shared services can also being allowed to open.

From June 29, outdoor markets, playgrounds and sports facilities reopened in Scotland, along with attractions such as zoos and “garden attractions”.

Dentists opened again in Scotland on Monday 22 June.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is expected to announce Scotland is entering the third phase of the route map on 9 July.

The FA Cup has been postponed until August. Credit: PA


  • England

Some competitive sport in England has resumed under strict coronavirus safety guidance.

This means matches and races will be played behind closed doors without spectators. But you can watch the action on TV.

The first major sporting event to take place under the new guidelines was the 2000 Guineas Stakes at Newmarket Racecourse on June 6.

The Premier League and English Football League (EFL) resumed on June 17, "subject to a successful vote from their clubs and approval by safety advisory groups".

The government has U-turned on the safety of cricket, with leagues across the country now set to resume from Saturday, July 11 with hygiene and social distancing measures in place.


Scotland confirmed football, top-level rugby and horse racing can return behind closed doors in phase two of the Scottish government’s easing of the coronavirus lockdown from Monday 22 June.

  • Wales and Northern Ireland

Competitive outdoor sport can resume from 17 July in Northern Ireland with "limited numbers" of spectators. Socially-distanced indoor spectators could be able return to sporting events from 28 August if the virus stays under control.

A meet at Chepstow marked the return of live professional sport in Wales in June and cricket may also return to Wales from 11 July subject to safety measures.

People on public transport in England must wear face coverings. Credit: PA

Public transport

  • England

Anyone using public transport in England must wear a face covering.

Those who do not could be fined £100.

People are advised to use public transport only where it is absolutely necessary.

  • Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland

Face coverings have been mandatory on public transport in Scotland since Monday 22 June.

In Northern Ireland and Wales they are recommended but not compulsory.

People across the UK are advised to use public transport only where it is absolutely necessary.

Places of worship

  • England

Places of worship in England reopened for public services from 5 July but gatherings of more than 30 people are now allowed for acts of communal worship in churches, synagogues, mosques, temples and meeting rooms in England. This means there are tight restrictions on weddings, funerals and bar mitzvahs among other events.

  • Northern Ireland

The easing of lockdown measures in Northern Ireland allowed places of worship to reopen on Monday 6 July.

Parishioners wearing face masks bless themselves at the end of mass at St Patrick's Catholic Cathedral in Armagh. Credit: PA


From Monday 22 June, places of worship will be open for private prayer in Scotland. From 23 July, Scotland's churches will reopen for services


Places of worship in Wales remain closed.

Coronavirus: Everything you need to know