How do Scotland’s Covid rules compare to the rest of the UK?

Ms Sturgeon told MSPs on Tuesday, January 11 that there are signs Scotland is “starting to turn the corner” following the spread of the Omicron variant.

The First Minister revealed that there would be several changes from current restrictions from next week with further restrictions likely to be eased in the future.

Here are the changes coming into force in Scotland from next week and how the rules compare with the rest of the UK. 

Nicola Sturgeon announced changes to Scotland’s Covid rules 

These are the key changes that the First Minister announced on Tuesday:

  • The 500-person cap on outdoor events in Scotland will be lifted from Monday, January 11 which will see the return of spectators to outdoor sporting events
  • Covid vaccine passport rules will be tightened with event organisers being asked to review either 50 percent or 1,000 Covid passports from attendees ( depending on which figure is higher)
  • “Fully vaccinated” definition will also change from Monday to include booster if the second dose of the coronavirus vaccine was more than four months ago.

However, the current rules limiting indoor events, table service in hospitality and social distancing in public places will remain in place until at least January 24.

Covid rules in England

Boris Johnson speaking at a Downing Street press conference. Credit: PA

These are current Covid rules in England following Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s recent announcement. These rules are known as “Plan B”:

  • Changes to rules around how to use PCR tests come into effect in England from Tuesday, January 11. Confirmatory PCR tests for asymptomatic people who test positive using a lateral flow device are no longer needed
  • Face coverings are still compulsory in most indoor public settings, as well as on public transport
  • People should work from home if they can
  • Secondary school pupils must continue to wear masks in classrooms.
  • Covid passes are needed for entry into nightclubs and other venues which has been the case since December 15
  • If you test positive or have symptoms in England, you can stop self-isolating after seven days instead of 10 if you take two negative lateral flow test results on days six and seven
  • If you are an unvaccinated close contact of a positive case in England, you must still isolate for 10 days.
  • Fully vaccinated travellers should take a lateral flow test, rather than a PCR, no later than the end of day two after their arrival.

Covid rules in Wales

HeraldScotland: Wales' First Minister Mark Drakeford. Credit: PAWales’ First Minister Mark Drakeford. Credit: PA

These are the current rules in Wales as laid out by First Minister Mark Drakeford.

  • Groups of no more than six people can meet in pubs, cinemas and restaurants.
  • Licensed premises can only offer table service only
  • Face masks need to be worn and contact tracing details collected in hospitality venues with two-metre social distancing rules in place
  • Nightclubs closed on Boxing Day
  • You should work from home if possible in Wales 
  • 30 people (maximum) can attend indoor events, this is raised to a maximum of 50 at outdoor events.
  • You should take a lateral flow before attending any weddings or civil partnership receptions or wakes 
  • The mandatory isolation period for people that test positive with Covid-19 is seven days so long as there are two negative lateral flow tests on days six and seven.
  • Similar to England, confirmatory PCR tests for asymptomatic people who test positive on a lateral flow device are no longer needed.
  • Fully vaccinated travellers need to take a lateral flow test (LFD) on day two when travelling to Wales
  • If travellers test positive, they should take a follow-up PCR test to allow for genomic sequencing to be carried out
  • You no longer need a pre-departure test and a day two PCR test when arriving in the UK if you are a fully vaccinated traveller

Covid rules in Northern Ireland

HeraldScotland: Northern Ireland's First Minister Paul Givan. Credit: PANorthern Ireland’s First Minister Paul Givan. Credit: PA

These are the current Covid rules in Northern Ireland as First Minister Paul Givan says that further restrictions will not be necessary due to the vaccine programme:

  • The self-isolation period for confirmed Covid-19 cases is seven days which is subject to negative lateral flow tests on days six and seven
  • Nightclubs are closed with dancing also being prohibited in hospitality venues – except for weddings
  • You must remain seated for table service in Northern Ireland while table numbers are limited to six and two-metre social distancing rules are in place in all businesses.
  • Sporting events can continue with no limits on capacity
  • You should work from home where possible and legislation has been introduced to ensure social distancing in offices and similar workplaces.
  • Mixing in a domestic setting is limited to three households under current guidance
  • You do not need to take a confirmatory PCR test if you’re asymptomatic and test positive on a lateral flow device as in England and Wales
  • Face masks need to be worn in shops, indoor-seated venues and visitor attractions, public transport and some other settings.
  • Pupils who are post-primary school-aged and teachers must wear them inside buildings.
  • Fully vaccinated travellers can also do a lateral flow test rather than a PCR on day two or before day two after their arrival in Northern Ireland.

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