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What are the Covid rules across UK’s four nations? How restrictions are different


Scotland is pushing back the date for ditching laws for people to wear face coverings in certain public settings amid a spike in coronavirus case numbers.

England has already scrapped mask rules, with face coverings no longer legally required after the relaxation of Plan B rules came on January 27.

It comes as all remaining Covid travel restrictions have now been lifted for passengers entering the UK.

The UK entered lockdown almost exactly two years ago after the first Covid pandemic measures were imposed across all four nations.

What are the current rules or guidance in all the nations of the UK?

Scotland



The First Minister said rising cases are driven by the BA.2 sub-variant of Omicron

The legal requirement to wear face coverings in certain public settings in Scotland will not be dropped next week as planned, Nicola Sturgeon announced on Tuesday.

The law on masks, which applies to public transport and enclosed public spaces, was due to be converted to guidance on March 21.

But the First Minister said rising cases driven by the BA.2 sub-variant of Omicron, now the dominant strain of coronavirus in Scotland, meant the rule would have to stay in place beyond this date. It will be reviewed again in two weeks’ time.

However, the legal requirement for certain premises to retain customer contact details will be scrapped as planned on Monday.

People without symptoms continue to be advised to test twice weekly, while close contacts of a positive case should test daily for seven days, and those with symptoms should get a PCR test.

But Ms Sturgeon said most testing will end next month.

Scotland’s mandatory coronavirus vaccine passport scheme, which required Scots to show their vaccination status before entering a nightclub or attending a large event, ended on February 28.

People who test positive for Covid in Scotland should still self-isolate for 10 days, although they can stop on the seventh day if they record two negative lateral flow tests.

England

Last month the Government set out its Living with Covid plan to remove the remaining legal restrictions in England.

It means that people are no longer legally required to self-isolate if they test positive for Covid-19, though they are still advised to stay at home and avoid contact with other people for five days.

The Government is no longer asking fully vaccinated contacts of a positive case, and those under 18, to test for seven days, and has removed the legal obligation for contacts who are not fully vaccinated to isolate.

Face coverings are no longer legally required in most public spaces, though they must still be worn in healthcare settings such as GP practices and hospitals.

From 4am on Friday, all remaining coronavirus travel measures including passenger locator forms and pre-travel tests for unvaccinated people entering the UK will be axed.

From April 1, free universal symptomatic and asymptomatic testing will end for the general public in England, except for a small number of at-risk groups.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid has said that the over-75s, those with weakened immune systems, and care home residents are to receive a fourth dose of the Covid-19 vaccine in the coming weeks.

Wales

All remaining Covid restrictions in Wales are expected to be dropped on March 28.

Until then, face coverings are still legally required in shops, health and care settings and on public transport, and regulated premises must continue to do coronavirus risk assessments.

Those who test positive for Covid must self-isolate for five full days, though this will cease being law on March 28.

From that date, the availability of free PCR tests for the public will end and be replaced with lateral flow tests for people with symptoms, which will be available until June.

Northern Ireland

Covid-19 legal restrictions were scrapped in Northern Ireland on February 15, bringing an end to the requirement for people to wear face coverings in shops and on public transport, and to have Covid certificates to enter nightclubs and some large events.

Businesses are no longer required to undertake coronavirus-linked risk assessments or collect track and trace information from customers.

While the curbs have been removed from law, they remain as guidance.

People who test positive for Covid-19 should isolate for 10 days, with the possibility of ending isolation on day six if they have two negative tests.

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