Updates to Covid restrictions across the UK


Boris Johnson is set to outline new rules under his ‘living with Covid’ plan on Monday 21st February.

After two years of restrictions, the Prime Minister has vowed to scrap coronavirus rules completely in England by the end of this month. The rules were initially set to be eased at the end of March, but they could now be relaxed as early as 24th February.

The limited measures left in England include:

  • Those who test positive or have symptoms must isolate for 10 days (or five days following two negative lateral flow tests)
  • NHS Covid passes are optional for venues
  • Face coverings are required in health and care settings such as hospitals, GP surgeries and pharmacies
  • Shops reserve the right to ask customers to wear face coverings
  • Face coverings are required on public transport in London
  • Face covering requirements in some school communal areas – local authorities discretion

Despite the legal quarantine rules being dropped, No 10 has said: “We’re not saying isolation is pointless.

“We’d expect anyone with an infectious disease to take steps not to spread that disease further – a colleague at work with flu, for example.”

More information on the changing rules in England can be found here.

Northern Ireland

The Health Minister Robin Swann has announced that Covid restrictions in Northern Ireland are to be moved from legal requirements to guidance from Tuesday 22nd February.

The mandatory wearing of masks in public places and the requirement to show Covid passes upon entry to nightclubs will be scrapped.

Swann, commented: “It moves our response against COVID into a new phase. With the reduced threat from the Omicron variant, we can move away from an emergency and legalistic framework to a new approach where making safer choices is embedded in our daily lives.

“That means all of us continuing to do our best to cut down risks of infection and transmission. It means looking after each other by following the public health guidance.

“It must always be remembered that taking unnecessary risks with COVID may affect people who are particularly vulnerable to the virus.

“So please do not jump the gun and start behaving as if the pandemic is over. That is not the case.”

He confirmed, however, that there are no plans at this stage to make changes to the current rules for testing, contact tracing and isolation in Northern Ireland.

The current rules for self-isolation can be found here.


Covid restrictions in Wales have been relaxed, although self-isolation upon receival of a positive test remains a requirement.

The requirement to provide a Covid certificate to get into nightclubs, cinemas and theatres will be dropped from 18th February, and 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.

The First Minister, Mark Drakeford, said: “With increasing numbers of people vaccinated and boosted, and thanks to the hard work and efforts of everyone across Wales, we are confident that coronavirus rates are falling and we can look forward to brighter times ahead.

“We can start to gradually and carefully remove some of the remaining protections we have in place. But we are not removing all the measures at once because the pandemic is not over yet.

“To keep Wales safe we need to remain cautious and do everything we can to reassure those who feel most at risk. We will keep some important protections in place, including face coverings in health and social care settings, on public transport and in all shops. We will also keep self-isolation rules in place.”

To get the latest information on requirements in Wales, click here.


The most recent update to the rules in Scotland includes the removal of the requirement for school pupils to wear face coverings in classrooms from 28th February.

Other measures introduced to tackle the Omicron variant that have been lifted include the need to socially distance when attending hospitality settings, table service is no longer required, and nightclubs are able to reopen. Restrictions on both indoor and outdoor events have also been lifted.

Restrictions still in place in Scotland include:

  • Shops and businesses must take measure to limit the risk of Covid spreading – eg limit numbers, distancing
  • Face coverings on public transport and most indoor spaces (rules in schools continue until February 28)
  • Covid verification for entry to nightclubs (proof of vaccination or negative test)
  • 2m distancing rules in healthcare settings such as hospitals, GP surgeries, dentists and pharmacies

The latest guidelines for Scotland can be found here.


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