There have been announcements this week across the UK on easing Covid-19 regulations. In England and Scotland, rules are set to be ‘encouraged’ rather than required by law, including the wearing of face masks and isolation periods. Wales on the other hand will urge on the side of caution and is not expected to change any rules until March.
The legal requirement to wear a face mask in shops, on public transport and in other shared indoor spaces in Scotland will come to an end on 21st March.
Nicola Sturgeon announced in a press briefing earlier in the week that people would no longer be required to provide Covid vaccine passports to attend nightclubs or events by the end of the month.
Taking a more cautious approach than neighbouring England, Sturgeon unveiled an approach that would “rely predominately on vaccines, treatments, and sensible public health behaviours and adaptions,” rather than laws.
The key dates:
Monday 28th February
People will no longer be required to show their Covid vaccine passport or proof of a negative lateral flow test to access nightclubs or large sporting events.
Operating the scheme will also no longer be a legal requirement for businesses from this point, but they can keep it in place if they want to “make their customers and staff feel safer”.
Monday 21st March
All remaining legal restrictions are lifted, including the requirement for people to wear face masks in indoor public spaces such as shops and on public transport.
Legal requirements on businesses, places of worship and others to take safety precautions – such as social distancing floor markers and plastic screens in shops – will also end.
Businesses will also no longer be required to collect customers’ details so they can be contacted in the event of a Covid outbreak.
Friday 1st April
A “transition period” on Covid testing and self-isolation rules will begin, the duration of which is currently undecided.
During the transition period, PCR and lateral flow testing will remain free and the requirement to self-isolate will continue for those who test positive.
Health minister Eluned Morgan has announced that the Welsh Government will not consider changing any rules until 4th March – the next three-weekly rule review point.
She has claimed that the UK Government has “acted too soon” by ending self-isolation requirements and announcing the end of free lateral flow tests in April.
Morgan, said: “I think it’s premature and I think it’s reckless and is a situation which is not, I think, backed by evidence.
“It’s clear that the system up until now has meant that we have been able to break the trends and change the transmission but we’re still at a position where we have pretty high rates within our communities.
“Clearly at some point we need to ramp down, but we should do that at a time when the transmissions are not so high and when it’s absolutely clear what we’re going to put in its place.”
From Monday 28th February, the requirement to wear face coverings will be removed from most indoor public places, apart from in retail, public transport and health and care settings.
To view the New Rules for Wales for Alert Level 0, click here.
All remaining Covid-19 restrictions were revoked in Northern Ireland on 15th February, making rules that were legally binding just guidance.
Whilst people will not be fined or punished for not following restrictions, residents are still encouraged to wear face coverings on transport and in public places, whilst individual businesses can still ask customers to follow rules.
Hospitality and entertainment venues will still be strongly encouraged to use so-called Covid passports, and the certificates will still be available for anyone who needs them to travel abroad.
Social distancing is also still encouraged as well as meeting outdoors or in well-ventilated places were possible.
The latest rules can be found here.