Rules & Restrictions in the UK


The Prime Minister has announced tougher restrictions across large parts of South East England following a sharp rise in infections attributed to the rapid spread of a new variant of Covid-19.

A new Tier 4: ‘Stay at Home’ alert level has been introduced. The general rules are as follows:

– You should not enter or leave Tier 4 areas, and Tier 4 residents must not stay overnight away from home.

– You cannot meet other people indoors, including over the Christmas and New Year period, unless you live with them, or they are part of your support bubble.

– Outdoors, you can only meet one person from another household. These rules will not be relaxed for Christmas for Tier 4 – you cannot form a Christmas bubble in Tier 4.

– Where people cannot work from home, they should still travel to work, for example in the construction and manufacturing sectors.

– Non-essential retail, indoor leisure [such as swimming pools and gyms], indoor entertainment [such as cinemas, bowling alleys and casinos], and personal care sectors [such as nail bars, barbers and hairdressers] must all close.

– Only one person can meet with one other person in an outside public space. Rules on support bubbles and childcare bubbles will remain as currently.

For Tiers 1, 2 and 3, people are still allowed to meet with up to three households. but this has been revised from five days to one day only on Christmas Day.

A full list of restrictions by area in England can be found here.


The First Minister of Wales Mark Drakeford announced last week his intention to bring forward the alert level four restrictions for Wales in line with the action being taken in London and the South East of England.

It had been announced earlier in the week that Wales would go into full lockdown on 28th December following a Christmas ‘ease on restrictions, however, following a sharp increase in Covid-19 cases in the country, the First Minister made the decision to bring forward the dates forward.

The rules are follows:

– Non-essential retail, close contact services, gyms and leisure centres, hospitality and accommodation will be required to close.eople must stay at home, except for very limited purposes.

– People must not visit other households, or meet other people they do not live with.

– Many businesses are required to close.

– Stay-at-home restrictions are in place.

Previous plans to allow two households to come together to form a Christmas bubble over a five-day period will apply to Christmas Day only.

Throughout the alert level four period, a single person household will be able to join with one other household.

For more information, click here.


The First Minister of Scotland introduced a string of changes to protect against the spread of the new, highly contagious spread of Covid-19. The rules are as follows:

– The planned easing of restrictions around Christmas will be limited to Christmas Day itself.

– Legal household limits will still apply – a maximum of 8 people from 3 households – however advice is to minimise the numbers.

– Where possible, people should celebrate the festive period at home in their own household and meet with others outdoors.

– Other than for specific exemptions, travel between Scotland and the rest of the UK will not be legal.

– Travel within Scotland will be allowed on Christmas Day.

– From Boxing Day, all of Scotland will have Level 4 restrictions applied, including the closure of non-essential retail and hospitality. The only exceptions will be Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles, and the other island communities where restrictions have been reduced in recent weeks, who will be placed in Level 3.

– From Boxing Day, in line with existing law, travel across local authority boundaries between areas in Level 3 or 4 will not be legal other than for specific exempt purposes.

– For most pupils, schools will not return until 11 January and learning will begin online from then until at least 18 January.

– Teachers will return to work as planned and children of key workers and the most vulnerable children, will return to schools as planned.

Northern Ireland

A limit has been placed on people coming together over Christmas in Northern Ireland

Christmas bubbling will now be reduced to one day only on a date between 23rd and 27th December, to ensure flexibility for those working on Christmas Day to choose an alternative day that suits best.

Further restrictions will apply between 26th December and 2nd January, as follows:

– Restrictions will be in place each night from 8.00 pm until 6.00 am the following morning.

– There can be no indoor or outdoor gatherings of any kind. This includes no household mixing in private gardens.

– Essential retail must close between the hours of 8.00 pm and 6.00 am.

 Additional restrictions will then be introduced for people in Northern Ireland on 26th December for a period of six weeks

– Households are not allowed to mix indoors in private homes

– Up to six people from no more than two households can meet up outdoors in a private garden, with social distancing.

– Hospitality venues such as cafes, restaurants, pubs, bars and social clubs must remain closed, with the exception of providing food and drink for takeaway, drive-through or delivery. 

– Businesses providing takeaway services must close at 11.00 pm and off-sales must stop at 8.00 pm.

– Hotels, guesthouses, bed and breakfast establishments, hostels and caravan sites and self-catering accommodation will only be able to operate on a restricted basis. 

– Accommodation can be provided for those already resident; for work-related purposes; for vulnerable people; for those in emergency situations; and people unable to return to their main address.

– Leisure and entertainment venues such as theatres, concert halls, cinemas, amusement arcades, bingo halls, bowling alleys, skating rinks, inflatable parks, go-karting venues, soft play centres, fairgrounds and funfairs, indoor museums, galleries, visitor and other cultural attractions are not permitted to open.

– Closure of all close contact services and retail businesses except for essential retail. 

For the latest information for Northern Ireland, please click here.

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