England begins "Living with Covid" plan and restrictions ease in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland
This week, all remaining legal restrictions in England have come to an end as part of the Prime Minister's "Living with Covid" plan. The new plans means people who test positive for Covid in England are no longer legally required to self-isolate.
Measures are also easing in Wales and Northern Ireland and Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon has confirmed that Scotland will also relax many of its remaining rules in March 2022.
Below is an outline of the changes across the UK:
From 24 February:
- People with Covid are not legally required to self-isolate – however, guidance recommends that those who test positive stay at home and avoid contact with others for at least five full days
- Self-isolation support payments of £500 for those on low incomes have stopped
- Routine contact tracing has ended – people in contact with someone with Covid will no longer be advised to self-isolate or take daily tests
- Workers are not required to tell their employer if they need to self-isolate
- Face coverings are not mandatory on tubes, trains or buses
From 1 April:
- PCR and lateral flow tests will no longer be free for most people
- Covid passports will no longer be recommended, except for international travel
- Employers will no longer have to consider Covid as a separate risk when working out how to keep employees safe
Over-75s and people with a weakened immune system are also being offered an extra Covid booster jab this spring, six months after their previous dose.
From 28 February:
- Scotland's Covid certification scheme will end – although businesses and venues have the option to use it if they wish
- Secondary school pupils will no longer need to wear masks in the classroom
From 21 March:
- Face coverings will no longer be legally required on public transport and indoor venues
- Businesses, places of worship and service providers will no longer have to follow government guidance on measures to avoid Covid
- There will be no requirement for businesses and service providers to keep customer contact details
Ms Sturgeon said that - unlike in England - there was no plan to scrap the requirement to self-isolate for people who tested positive.
Deputy First Minister John Swinney has also said that free Covid testing will continue in some form beyond April.
The Scottish government will set out in March how free PCR and lateral flow tests will be allocated.
Until 21 March, the following restrictions will continue:
- Shops and businesses need to take measures to limit the spread of Covid
- Face coverings are compulsory on public transport and most indoor spaces, including shops and secondary schools
- Covid certification scheme remains in place for venues including nightclubs, meaning people must provide proof of their vaccination status or a recent negative test
- 2m distancing rule remains in healthcare settings such as hospitals, doctors' surgeries and dentists
- Nightclubs have reopened, social distancing rules have been lifted and limits on socialising in pubs and restaurants - known as the rule of six - have been removed
- Legal requirement to work from home has also ended.
Some measures remain in place:
- Compulsory face coverings in schools, on public transport and in shops and hospitals
- Secondary school pupils are asked to test for Covid three times a week
- Covid certificates for nightclubs, mandatory face coverings, track and trace requirements and the cap on 30 people in private homes are no longer legal requirements.