Covid lockdown: How does the easing of restrictions differ between the UK's nations?

Police patrol a street in central Cardiff, Wales (left) while a boy walks past a message of support for the NHS in Derry, Northern Ireland. Credit: PA

Coronavirus lockdown limitations continue to be eased in different stages across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Hairdressers and barbers in Wales were allowed to reopen on Monday. And in Scotland, the stay at home order will be lifted and hairdressers will be allowed to reopen in early April, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced.

Here is what we know about plans to exit lockdown for each nation in the UK:


  • February 22

Scotland, which has been in national lockdown since January 5, began allowing the youngest pupils back to schools.

  • March 12

Four adults from two households, or four 12-17-year-olds from four households, have been allowed to meet outdoors. Non-contact outdoor sport is also allowed for groups of up to 15 people. Primary schools are fully open to all pupils, and senior secondary school pupils are in school on a part time basis.

Hairdressers in Scotland will be allowed to reopen for appointments from April 5, Nicola Sturgeon announced. Credit: PA

In a timetable for easing lockdown published on March 16, the Scottish government clarified the next steps for easing lockdown.

  • March 26

Communal worship can take place in a place of worship with up to a maximum of 50 people.

  • April 2

The "stay at home" order will be replaced by "stay local".

  • April 5

Hairdressers and barbers will be allowed to reopen for appointments, more university and college students will be allowed to return for in-person teaching and contact sports for 12 to 17 year olds will be allowed to resume. Non-essential shops will also be allowed to reopen for click and collect.

  • April 12 - 19

All pupils back at school full-time.

  • April 26

Pubs, restaurants and other hospitality businesses will be allowed to reopen, with alcohol only allowed outdoors. Indoor hospitality will have to close at 8pm while customers will be allowed to remain outdoors until 10pm.

Six people from three households will be allowed to meet, with those aged between 12 and 17 able to meet with six others from six households.

Funerals and weddings can take place with up to 50 people. Galleries, museums and libraries can also reopen.

Travel within mainland Scotland and the rest of the UK will lift "entirely" and indoor gyms will be allowed to reopen with limitations.

It's at this point Ms Sturgeon said Scotland will have left lockdown and entered a "modified Level 3".

  • May 17

Restrictions on outdoor gatherings will lift, if the coronavirus situation allows, and it is hoped indoor meetings at homes will be allowed to resume, limited to four people from two households.

Indoor hospitality venues will also be allowed to sell alcohol from this date.

  • Early June

Ms Sturgeon said all of Scotland will move to Covid-19 alert level one, and by the end of June she hopes the country will move into alert level zero.


Wales entered a national lockdown on December 20 – the earliest of any nation in the UK. Minor changes to the rules on February 20 allowed up to four people from two households to exercise together outdoors.

The Welsh government began to reopen people’s personal lives and the economy from the weekend of March 13.

  • March 13

A "stay local" rule replaced the "stay at home" message - allowing people to travel further. Four people from two households are now able to meet outdoors to socialise, including in gardens. Outdoor sports facilities can also reopen and indoor care home visits will restart for single designated visitors.

Medical staff on the Covid-19 ward at the Neath Port Talbot Hospital, in Wales. Credit: PA
  • March 15

Hairdressers and barbers were allowed to reopen for appointments. All primary school pupils were also allowed back in classrooms, joining those in foundation years who returned last month. Some secondary school and college students will also return to school.

  • March 22

Some non-essential shops will be allowed to reopen "gradually" as the restrictions are lifted on what can be sold in shops which are currently open, First Minister Mark Drakeford said. Garden centres will also be allowed to reopen.

  • April 12

All shops will be able to open from 12 April – the same date as in England. And All school students return to classrooms. University students could also be back in lectures, Education Minister Kirsty William said.

  • March 27

Wales-wide travel will be allowed with a return of holidays.

“Provided things continue to go in the right direction, we hope to be able to reopen self-contained accommodation for the Easter period," Mr Drakeford told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

People can now travel further than five miles and do not need to stay local to their homes. Credit: PA Images

But he added that people in England will not be able to holiday in Wales when self-contained accommodation reopens at Easter.

"At Easter time, Welsh people will be able to travel for holidays over Easter within Wales, and to self-contained accommodation,” Mr Drakeford said.

“The rules in England will not permit that. The Prime Minister’s road map says that for the weeks after March 29, people should minimise travel, there are to be no holidays, and people won’t be allowed to stay away from home overnight.

“If it won’t be safe to stay overnight in England, then obviously it would not be safe for people to travel into Wales.”

Mr Drakeford said he hoped the Welsh Government would be able to “keep on taking further steps to unlock Wales” at each three-week review period during the spring.

About 40% of children in Wales were back in school, with that figure rising “considerably” from Monday. Credit: PA

Northern Ireland

Restrictions were introduced in Northern Ireland on December 26 and were extended to April 1 by the Stormont Executive.

  • Currently

People are being told to stay at home. Outdoor gatherings of 10 people from two households are allowed, but this does not include private gardens. And outdoor exercise is allowed with one person from another household.

Weddings and funerals are limited to 25 people, and many businesses (including gyms, restaurants and hairdressers) remain closed.

Pre-school and primary school pupils in year groups P1 to P3 returned to classrooms on March 8.

  • March 22

P4 to P7 will return to school, and so will Year 12 to 14 students who are working towards their qualifications.

  • April 1

Six people from two households will be allowed to meet in private gardens. And for outdoor sport, the limit will be expanded to 10 people from two households.

Garden centres will be allowed to open for contactless click and collect.

  • April 12

10 people from two households will be allowed to meet in private gardens.

Non-essential shops will be allowed to reopen for contactless click and collect, sports training for affiliated clubs will be allowed for groups of up to 15 people

Students in years 8 to 11 could return to classrooms, subject to a review of the public health situation at the end of March.


  • March 8

All pupils in all year groups returned to classrooms with outdoor afterschool sports and activities also allowed to restart.

People are now permitted to have socially distanced one-to-one meetings with others outdoors in a public space.

Care home residents are also allowed a single nominated visitor, who will be required to take a Covid test, wear personal protective equipment and keep physical contact to a minimum.

Mask wearing is still required for children at year 7 or above Credit: Danny Lawson/PA
  • March 29

The “rule of six” will return, along with new measures allowing two households, totalling no more than six people, to meet. Outdoor organised sport will also return. The "stay at home" order will be lifted.

  • April 12

The date is the earliest non-essential shops, gyms, hairdressers and salons, libraries, outdoor attractions and outdoor hospitality venues such as beer gardens will be allowed to reopen. Self-contained holidays within the UK could be permitted.

  • May 17

Two households, or groups of up to six people, will be allowed to mix indoors and limited crowds will be allowed at sporting events.

  • June 21

All remaining restrictions on social contact could be lifted, allowing for larger events to go ahead and nightclubs to reopen.

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