Covid: New restrictions for 3 countries go into effect amid surge in infections

Restrictions involve revamped rules for various industries


Ashwani Kumar

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Shoppers queue to enter Selfridges department store ahead of the Boxing Day sale in  London. – AFP
Shoppers queue to enter Selfridges department store ahead of the Boxing Day sale in London. – AFP

Published: Sun 26 Dec 2021, 7:11 PM

Last updated: Mon 27 Dec 2021, 12:48 AM

The governments of Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland have imposed a fresh set of stringent restrictions, in order to curb the pace of Covid-19 infections that are not showing any discernible signs of slowing down.

All of the restrictions involve revamped curbs on various industries (especially the hospitality and leisure industry), as well as the re-emergence of social distancing and crowding rules.

According to the Office for National Statistics' estimates, 1.74 million people, or one in every 35 people, had coronavirus seven days ago. It is this shocking statistic, coupled with the surging number of new cases in each of the three nations that has pushed them to impose tougher measures.

The following are the newest Covid-19 restrictions imposed upon Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, by their respective governments (with inputs from their official websites), effective from December 26:


  • Capacity limits will be in place for larger events (excluding places of worship). This means a maximum of 100 people at indoor standing events, 200 people at indoor seated events, 500 people at outdoor events (whether seated or standing)
  • Adult non-professional contact sports are not allowed in indoor spaces.
  • From December 27 onwards, everyone must keep one metre physical distance between groups of up to three households in all indoor and outdoor hospitality and leisure settings like bars, restaurants, theatres, music venues, cinemas and gyms, table service will be needed where alcohol is served for consumption on the premises, night clubs must close – they have the option of staying open without dancing, but table service and 1 metre physical distancing between groups must also be in place.
  • Additionally, stay home as much as possible to limit the number of contacts made – when meeting others, gather in small groups of no more than three households.
  • Avoid crowded places – shop at quieter times where possible and follow the enhanced precautions in shops and hospitality venues, which may include controlled entrances and exits to limit customer numbers, and signs and floor markings to help people keep a safe distance from others.
  • Work from home if possible.
  • Take a lateral flow test before visiting someone in hospital or a care home or to accompany someone to medical appointments.


  • Up to 50 outdoor and 30 indoor spectators can attend community sports events.
  • 2 metre social distancing will be required in offices and all public premises.
  • A maximum of six people can meet in public premises.
  • Licenced premises will need to take additional reasonable measures to protect customers and staff.
  • A maximum of 30 people can attend indoor events and a maximum of 50 people at outdoor events.
  • People attending weddings or civil partnership receptions or wakes should take a lateral flow test before attending.
  • Nightclubs will be closed.

Northern Ireland

  • Indoor standing events will not be permitted.
  • Dancing will not be permitted in hospitality settings.
  • Nightclubs are prohibited from opening, and with the exception of weddings and civil partnerships.
  • From December 27 onwards, people are strongly advised to limit the amount of social contact they have with other households. It is recommended that no more than 3 households should meet together in a private home.
  • A maximum of six people can be seated together in hospitality settings. More than six will be permitted if they all belong to a single household, as long as it is not more than 10. Children aged 12 and under are not counted in the total. This requirement does not apply to weddings and civil partnerships.
  • Table service will also be required and apart from entering and leaving the premises, the only movement allowed indoors is to access toilet or baby changing facilities, to select food from a buffet or to pay.
  • Two metre social distancing will be required in office settings. Offices vary significantly in terms of size, layout and capacity and where two metre social distancing cannot be achieved alternative measures such as screens should be put in place.
  • Retail businesses are required to take reasonable measures to reduce the risk of Covid-19 transmission. Businesses vary significantly in terms of size, layout and capacity, however consideration must be given to social distancing, one-way systems, screens, barriers and capacity management.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has not announced any further restrictions in the country, keeping in mind the increasing resistance against Covid-19 restrictions, which itself is a source of widespread unrest. However, the Prime Minister also added that he would not hesitate to take tough decisions, if the need arose.


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