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How do Covid restrictions compare across the UK?


While Boris Johnson seems unlikely to tighten coronavirus restrictions in England before Christmas, his Scottish and Welsh counterparts have announced new rules for sporting events to curb the spread of Omicron.

Here, the PA news agency examines how the rules of the four UK countries stack up.

– How have the rules changed in Wales?

From December 26, sporting events will be played behind closed doors to help control the spread of the rapidly increasing new Omicron variant across Wales.

Fans will no longer be allowed to attend indoor or outdoor sporting events.

Christmas shoppers stroll through central Cardiff, Wales (Ben Birchall / PA)

A £ 3million spectator sport fund will be made available to support clubs and sports venues affected by the new public health protection measures.

Prime Minister Mark Drakeford previously announced a mix of advice for the Christmas season as well as new regulations to be followed as part of a “two-phase plan”.

Nightclubs will be closed from December 27 under the new rules, although the Welsh government has announced a £ 60million fund to support all businesses affected by the restrictions.

From the same date, two-meter social distancing will be mandatory in offices, and measures including one-way systems and physical barriers will be introduced in businesses to protect customers and staff.

The regulations will also be amended to include the obligation to work from home where possible.

Until December 27, the Welsh government is encouraging people to take five steps: get vaccinated; make sure you test negative on the lateral flow test before going shopping or meeting people; meeting in well ventilated areas – preferably outdoors; space out socialization to allow testing days in between; and respecting social distancing, wearing a face covering and washing your hands.

He also urges people to reduce contact with others over the next few days, especially if Christmas plans call for seeing older or more vulnerable people.

Mr Drakeford said restricting the number of households allowed to reunite remains a possibility, and hinted at the prospect of further restrictions on reception facilities after Christmas, such as the “rule of six”.

– What about Scotland?

Following the December 20 announcement that Scotland had its highest test positivity rate since January this year (6,734 new coronavirus cases in 24 hours), Prime Minister Nicola Sturgeon has imposed limits to the number of spectators authorized at sporting events.

Coming into force from Boxing Day for “up to three weeks,” the new rules mean that a maximum of 500 people can attend outdoor events where a physical distancing of one meter is in place.

Celtic v St Johnstone - Premier Sports Cup - Semi Final - Hampden Park
Outdoor sporting events will have a limit of 500 spectators from Boxing Day in Scotland (Andrew Milligan / PA)

Standing indoor events will be limited to 100 spectators and seated indoor events to 200.

It also means that the traditional Scottish large-scale Hogmanay celebrations on December 31 have been canceled.

For three weeks from January 27, pubs and other places selling alcohol will also be required to offer table-only service.

By law in Scotland, anyone over the age of 12 must wear a face covering indoors, with some exceptions, and the new directive emphasizes that masks must be worn indoors in all businesses.

Holyrood ministers have found £ 100million for business support, with the Prime Minister announcing £ 66million will go to hotels, £ 8million to businesses in the food supply chain and drinks, £ 20million to the culture sector, £ 3million to the wedding industry and £ 3million to ‘worst affected parts of tourism’.

Questions from the premiers
Prime Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced new rules from Boxing Day amid the rise of Omicron in Scotland (Jane Barlow / PA)

It was also announced that allowing staff to work from home whenever possible would once again become a legal requirement for employers.

Home care visits have been limited to two households, while anyone over 18 can book a reminder appointment online.

– What is the situation in England?

There is still uncertainty in England over Covid restrictions after Cabinet failed to reach a decision on Monday, although Mr Johnson said the government would “reserve the right” to implement new restrictions.

Coronavirus - Tue. Dec.  14, 2021
Stricter rules on wearing face masks have been introduced (James Manning / PA)

England currently has the UK’s most relaxed rules, but a recent vote in Parliament saw some measures introduced, including Covid passes for entry to nightclubs and other places from December 15. .

This applies to indoor events with 500 or more attendees where people are likely to stand or move around, such as concert halls, outdoor events with 4,000 or more attendees, such as festivals music, and all events with 10,000 or more participants, whether indoors or outdoors, such as sports stadiums.

Face coverings were also made mandatory in most indoor public places, as well as on public transport, and people were encouraged to work from home if they could.

People aged 18 and over can get their third jab starting this week.

England’s advice is that people should work from home if they can. Anyone who cannot work from home should continue to work – but are encouraged to consider having regular lateral flow tests.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has offered a £ 1 billion support package to businesses affected by Covid restrictions, after days of urgent lobbying by MPs, businesses and industry officials.

It includes one-time grants of up to £ 6,000 per local for businesses in affected sectors in England, which the Treasury says will be administered by local authorities and will be available in the coming weeks.

The government also intends to use taxpayer money to cover the cost of statutory sickness benefits for Covid-related absences for companies with fewer than 250 employees.

– What is Northern Ireland doing?

Following a meeting on Dec. 16 to review the evolving situation with Omicron, the executive board announced that “scenario planning is underway to develop a set of potential measures that we may deploy to slow the downturn. spread of the virus and when would be the most efficient time to deploy them “.

In a joint statement, the ministers said: “These decisions will be supported by scientific and medical advice and the executive will meet again next week to review the data and consider next steps.”

The current advice is that indoor gatherings should not have more than 30 people in attendance, while working from home is also recommended where possible.

People line up at the COVID-19 vaccination center at Dundonald Hospital in Belfast, Northern Ireland.
People lining up at the Covid-19 vaccination center at Dundonald Hospital, Belfast (Liam McBurney / PA)

A program that requires people to prove their Covid-free status to access a range of high-turnout venues and events will be made mandatory.

Those wishing to access nightclubs, pubs, restaurants and other approved premises will need to provide proof of vaccination, a negative result on the lateral flow test or proof of a previous Covid-19 infection.

The same rules will apply for entry to large indoor and outdoor events such as concerts and sporting events.