Covid: When are changes to coronavirus rules expected across the UK’s four nations?

ITV News Science Editor Tom Clarke outlines the upcoming changes across the UK

Scotland is to move to Level 0 of coronavirus restrictions on July 19, with some changes to original plans due to the spread of the Delta variant.

Here, ITV News takes a look at what rules are set to change across the UK’s four nations and when.

What is the situation in Scotland?

Nicola Sturgeon confirmed the country is set to move to Level 0 of the five-tier system on Monday, but restrictions will continue on physical distancing and numbers meeting both indoors and outdoors.

The first minister said that face coverings will remain mandatory for “some time to come”, while social distancing is set to be reduced to one metre inside public places.

Indoor gathering restrictions in homes will be lifted to allow up to eight people from up to four households to meet, while a group of up to 10 can meet inside a pub or restaurant.

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Some physical distancing rules are to be maintained outdoors, and the 11pm closure time for pubs operating indoors will be changed to midnight – a change from original plans to scrap the limit entirely.

The planned “gradual return to the office” will also be postponed until August 9, when Scotland plans to move beyond Level 0.

The central belt of Scotland is currently in Level 2 of measures, with the rest of the mainland in Level 1 and most of the islands in Level 0.

What is the near future looking like in England?

Boris Johnson confirmed on Monday that all remaining legal restrictions will be lifted in England from July 19, but the government is urging a more cautious approach in response to soaring coronavirus cases.

All legal limits on the numbers meeting indoors and outdoors will be scrapped and all businesses will reopen, including nightclubs – for the first time since March 2020.

Lockdown rules in England: What's changing from July 19

What has happened to social distancing and the rule of six?

The 'one metre plus' rule has been scrapped entirely, as of July 19 in England. However, some guidance to maintain social distancing in certain situations will remain in place of the legal restrictions.

Social distancing guidance will continue if someone is Covid positive and self-isolating, or in airports, or other ports of entry, to avoid travellers arriving from amber or red-list countries mixing with those from green list areas.

Limits on social contact in England have disappeared, meaning the end of the rule of six indoors and the limit of 30 people for outdoor gatherings.

Do I still need to wear a face mask?

There is now no legal requirements to wear face coverings - but guidance still encourages using masks in some settings, including hospitals, healthcare settings and in crowded enclosed public spaces.

Has the working from home guidance changed?

The guidance on working from home has gone. It's ultimately down to employers to decide whether to keep staff at home or in the office, but the government say employers are able to plan the return of staff to the workplace.

What about weddings and funerals?

The current limits on numbers of people who can attend weddings, funerals and other life events has ended.

What's happening in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland?

The changes to Covid rules announced by Boris Johnson, only impact England and will not change regulations in Northern Ireland, Wales or Scotland.

The Welsh Government “would like to move together” with other parts of the UK in lifting coronavirus restrictions but will only do so if it is “right for Wales”, health minister Eluned Morgan said on Monday 5 July.

As of July 19, restrictions in Scotland have eased, with all areas of the country moving to level 0. The government is aiming to lift all major restrictions in Scotland by August 9.

In Northern Ireland, some significant restrictions have already been eased including allowing the resumption of live music and the lifting of caps on organised outdoor gatherings.

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The government is recommending that businesses use “certification” as a basis of entry to venues deemed “high risk”, for example nightclubs, especially when the prevalence of coronavirus is high as it is currently.

People can attend concerts, theatre and sports events and the one-metre-plus rule on social distancing will end, while the legal obligation to wear a face covering will also be removed.

However, the prime minister said that ministers “expect and recommend” that people continue to wear one in crowded and enclosed spaces, such as on public transport.

Credit: PA

The instruction to work from home will be scrapped, although ministers are encouraging firms to implement a gradual return to the office, and the limit on named visitors to care homes will be lifted.

In a move towards restarting international travel, children and adults who have been fully vaccinated against coronavirus will not have to quarantine on their return from amber list countries to England from July 19.

Meanwhile, rules on 10-day self-isolation periods in England are being eased for the fully vaccinated and under-18s, but not until August 16.

What about in Wales?

First Minister Mark Drakeford is expected to make a statement on Wednesday setting out further details on the new Alert Level Zero for Wales.

The country is currently at Alert Level One, meaning people must not meet with more than five other people in settings such as restaurants and pubs, and face coverings are mandatory in all indoor public places.

At present, extended households can be formed between three households, while up to 30 people can meet in an outdoor area, including private gardens.

Mr Drakeford has reminded people that changes announced by Mr Johnson “apply to England only” and ministers in Wales have insisted they will not be rushed into a decision about scrapping restrictions.

And Northern Ireland?

A further wave of coronavirus relaxations will come into effect on July 26, including the end of social distancing requirements for outdoor activities and a reduction of the distance to one metre for indoor settings.

From that date, people returning from amber list countries who have been fully vaccinated in the UK will not have to self-isolate on arrival in Northern Ireland or take a test eight days after their return.

Members of the public enjoy a drink and a meal in Belfast Credit: Mark Marlow/PA

Some measures, such as theatres and concert halls being allowed to welcome back audiences and conferences and exhibitions being able to resume, need final ratification by Stormont ministers on July 22.

Under the plans, a limit on gatherings in private homes would increase from six to 10, from no more than three households, while 15 people from any number of households can meet in a private garden.

The legal requirement to wear face coverings in places of worship is also set to be removed on July 26, and in terms of schools, classroom bubbling and the use of face masks in classes are to be removed from guidance.